Using Microsatellite Analysis to Track Changes in Quagga Mussel Populations in the Western United States

Project ID: 9120
Principal Investigator: Sherri Pucherelli
Research Topic: Invasive Species
Funded Fiscal Years: 2015
Keywords: invasive species, quagga mussels, zebra mussels, pcr, genetic variability, phenotypic variability

Research Question

Reclamation is currently challenged with management of invasive mussel infestations at many facilities throughout the West. Challenges also exist for managers of facilities in areas where mussel infestations have not yet occurred in preventing and/or preparing for mussel establishment. The suitability of specific water bodies for invasive mussel infestation and the population density that it could support can be an important factor for these managers in prioritization, budgeting, and decision making processes.

In addition, this research may lead to discovery of genetic variations associated with susceptibilities or tolerances to current control measures such as chlorine and ultraviolet light treatments. Further investigations into mussel variability and adaptations have the potential to reveal genetic vulnerabilities and facilitate development of more effective and cost efficient integrated pest management strategies for invasive mussels at Reclamation facilities.

Microsatellite analysis can provide information about genetic diversity within populations of a particular species. Understanding the genetic variability within quagga mussel populations throughout the Western United States can provide Reclamation with valuable information that may help predict future mussel distribution patterns and impacts to Reclamation waters. Accurate information regarding the level of suitability for water bodies to support invasive mussel populations is highly useful to Reclamation managers in preparing for, and preventing or minimizing the potential for infestation. Certainty the knowledge of suitability levels would allow prioritization of budget allocation and decision processes for water bodies that are at high risk for problematic infestations.
The goal of this scoping project is to determine the best method to distinguish quagga mussel population traits in the Western United States. This project will help determine if there is genetic and phenotypic variability betwe

Need and Benefit

Preliminary genetic analysis of quagga mussels in the West conducted by the University of Arizona has found a significant degree of diversity, even within the same system. This may be partially responsible for the variations in mussel infestations that have been observed in the Lower Colorado River.
Microsatellite, and other genetic analysis methods can provide information about genetic diversity within a species. Understanding the genetic variability within quagga mussel populations throughout the Western United States can provide Reclamation with valuable information that may help predict future mussel distribution patterns and impacts to Reclamation waters. Accurate information regarding the level of suitability for water bodies to support invasive mussel populations is highly useful to Reclamation managers in preparing for, and preventing or minimizing the potential for infestation. Certainty the knowledge of suitability levels would allow prioritization of budget allocation and decision processes for water bodies that are at high risk for problematic infestations.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Bureau of Reclamation Review

The following documents were reviewed by experts in fields relating to this project's study and findings. The results were determined to be achieved using valid means.

Using Microsatellite Analysis to Track Changes in Quagga Mussel Populations in the Western United States (final, PDF, 635KB)
By Sherri Pucherelli
Publication completed on September 30, 2015

Invasive dreissenid mussels threaten the health and function of Reclamation waters and facilities. Understanding the genetic variability within quagga mussel populations throughout the Western United States can help Reclamation predict mussel distribution patterns and provide insight into genetic weaknesses or genes that can be targeted for control purposes. Microsatellite analysis is a method of analyzing genetic variability that is particularly useful to ecologists attempting to learn more about invasive species population history and structure. The goal of this paper is to investigate the current literature to gain a better understanding of how microsatellite analysis has been used for dreissenid mussel population analysis and how it can be used to answer questions about Western quagga mussel populations.


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Last Updated: 4/4/17