Unravelling the invasion pathways of the quagga mussel (Dreissena rostriformis) into Western Europe

Jonathan Marescaux, Katharina C. M. von Oheimb, Emilie Etoundi, Parm Viktor von Oheimb, Christian Albrecht, Thomas Wilke, Karine Van Doninck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Genetic tools have been extremely useful to study the colonization history and dynamics of invasive species and infer source populations. In addition, understanding the distribution of genetic diversity of non-indigenous species is important to understand factors contributing to invasive success. Here, we used genetic markers to study the invasion history of the quagga mussel Dreissena rostriformis (Deshayes 1838). The invasion of North American and European watercourses by the quagga mussel is of major concern since this dreissenid mussel has widespread ecological and economic impacts in invaded regions. Through the use of mitochondrial (COI) and nuclear (microsatellites) markers and based on a large sampling, including both native and invasive ranges, we characterized the recent invasion of Western Europe by D. rostriformis. Scenario testing Bayesian analysis (approximate Bayesian computation methods) suggests that Western Europe was most probably invaded from the Pontic region via the southern corridor (Danube River, the Main-Danube Canal and the Main and Rhine rivers). Furthermore, pairwise FST values suggest a second invasion to Western Europe from North America via trans-Atlantic shipping. The high genetic diversity and low differentiation among D. rostriformis populations suggest high propagule pressure and frequent exchanges between the Pontic region, Eastern North America and Western Europe. Our study concludes that multiple introductions and high propagule pressure have shaped the genetic composition of populations in Western Europe. The results provide valuable information for future management plans in order to control the spread of highly invasive aquatic species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-264
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Approximate Bayesian computation
  • Dreissena rostriformis
  • Phylogeography
  • Population genetics
  • Quagga mussel


Dive into the research topics of 'Unravelling the invasion pathways of the quagga mussel (Dreissena rostriformis) into Western Europe'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this