Strong genetic structuring of the cockle : new insights from an intronic marker and multivariate analysisCerastoderma glaucum: new insights from an intronic marker and multivariate analysis across Europe: new insights from an intronic marker and multivariate analysis

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The distribution of the lagoon cockle Cerastoderma glaucum is strongly fragmented and usually restricted to isolated, shallow and nontidal lagoons. A high level of genetic structuring was found among the European populations of this species based on mtDNA (COI) sequences, as well as allozymic and microsatellite markers. However, the strengths and geographic locations of the major divisions differed among markers. In the present study we characterized the diversity of a new, potentially universal exon-primed intron-crossing marker, i34, for 17 C. glaucum populations. Allele frequency data at the i34 locus were informative and relevant with respect to geography. Multivariate analyses of new data together with previously published microsatellites confirmed the divergent character of the Ionian Sea and the Aegean-Ponto-Caspian populations, but also revealed the existence of a genetic cline from the Bay of Biscay to the Baltic Sea. Some noncongruent patterns among loci were detected, which may reflect either differential introgression along the genome at the hypothetical contact zone, or selective sweeps. This strong genetic differentiation, and the occurrence of private alleles, may hint at the presence of cryptic species within C. glaucum.

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