A nucleotide sequence analysis of the first internal transcribed spacer region (ITS-1) between the 5.8S and 18S ribosomal DNA genes (640 bp) and cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) (576 bp) was conducted for the freshwater bivalve Lasmigona subviridis and three congeners to determine the utility of these regions in identifying phylogeographic and phylogenetic structure. Sequence analysis of the ITS-1 region indicated a zone of discontinuity in the genetic population structure between a group of L. subviridis populations inhabiting the Susquehanna and Potomac Rivers and more southern populations. Moreover, haplotype patterns resulting from variation in the COI region suggested an absence of gene exchange between tributaries within two different river drainages, as well as between adjacent rivers systems. The authors recommend that the northern and southern populations, which are reproductively isolated and constitute evolutionarily significant lineages, be managed as separate conservation units. Results from the COI region suggest that, in some cases, unionid relocations should be avoided between tributaries of the same drainage because these populations may have been reproductively isolated for thousands of generations. Therefore, unionid bivalves distributed among discontinuous habitats (e.g. Atlantic slope drainages) potentially should be considered evolutionarily distinct. The DNA sequence divergences observed in the nuclear and mtDNA regions among the Lasmigona species were congruent, although the level of divergence in the COI region was up to three times greater. The genus Lasmigona, as represented by the four species surveyed in this study, may not be monophyletic.
Additional publication details
Intraspecific phylogeography of Lasmigona subviridis (Bivalvia: Unionidae): Conservation implications of range discontinuity