Recent taxonomic discoveries concerning the mussel Mytilus: Implications for biomonitoring

P. B. Lobel*, S. P. Belkhode, S. E. Jackson, H. P. Longerich

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    56 Citations (Scopus)


    The mussel Mytilus edulis has been widely used as a bioindicator of marine pollution. Because of its wide distribution around the world, it has been possible to establish a global "mussel watch" to monitor pollutants in the marine environment. Recent taxonomic discoveries based on studies of allozyme variation, however, have shown that Mytilus edulis is actually a complex consisting of three separate evolutionary lineages which deserve the ranks of separate species: 1) the Atlantic Mytilus edulis 2)Mytilus galloprovincialis and 3)Mytilus trossulus. Many mussels previously classified as Mytilus edulis can be reclassified as either Mytilus galloprovincialis or Mytilus trossulus. In the present study, specimens of Mytilus edulis and Mytilus trossulus were collected from the same habitat and analyzed for the concentrations of 25 elements by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). Mytilus trossulus had higher element concentrations than Mytilus edulis. Differences between the element concentrations of the two species were related to differences in growth rate rather than to any direct differences between the element metabolisms of the species. It is suggested that such differences could be corrected by standardizing the mussels to a fixed width/height ratio. In order to avoid errors in future monitoring programs, it is recommended that taxonomic variables should be considered.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)508-512
    Number of pages5
    JournalArchives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 1990


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