Molecular taxonomy reveals broad trans-oceanic distributions and high species diversity of deep-sea clams (Bivalvia: Vesicomyidae: Pliocardiinae) in chemosynthetic environments
Audzijonyte, A and Krylova, EM and Sahling, H and Vrijenhoek, RC, Molecular taxonomy reveals broad trans-oceanic distributions and high species diversity of deep-sea clams (Bivalvia: Vesicomyidae: Pliocardiinae) in chemosynthetic environments, Systematics and Biodiversity, 10, (4) pp. 403-415. ISSN 1477-2000 (2012) [Refereed Article]
Large vesicomyid clams are common inhabitants of sulphidic deep-sea habitats such as hydrothermal vents, hydrocarbon seeps and whale-falls. Yet, the species- and genus-level taxonomy of these diverse clams has been unstable due to insufficiencies in sampling and absence of detailed taxonomic studies that would consistently compare molecular and morphological characters. To clarify uncertainties about species-level assignments, we examined DNA sequences from mitochondrial cytochrome-c-oxidase subunit I (COI) in conjunction with morphological characters. New and published COI sequences were used to create a molecular database for 44 unique evolutionary lineages corresponding to species. Overall, the congruence between molecular and morphological characters was good. Several discrepancies due to synonymous species designations were recognized, and acceptable species names were rectified with published COI sequences in cases where morphological specimens were available. We identified seven species with trans-Pacific distributions, and two species with Indo-Pacific distributions. Presently, 27 species have only been documented from one region, which might reflect limited ranges, or insufficient geographical sampling. Vesicomyids exhibit the greatest species diversity along the northwest Pacific ridge systems and in the eastern Pacific, along the western America margin, where depth zonation typically results in segregation of closely related species. The broad distributions of several vesicomyid species suggest that their required chemosynthetic habitats might be more common than previously recognized and occur along most continental margins.
biogeography, deep sea, molecular taxonomy, speciation