Hanging on by a Thread

Department of Natural Resources

College of Life Sciences and Agriculture

University of New Hampshire



Linking Heterozygosity and Morphometrics with Motility and Byssal Thread Attachment Strength in Blue Mussels (Mytilus edulis)

Although increased heterozygosity of blue mussels has been correlated with positive fitness traits, and with an increased resistance to elevated temperatures and air exposure, both, natural and farmed mussel populations reveal significant heterozygote deficiencies. Several explanations of such deficits have been proposed. An as of yet, untested hypothesis poses a link between heterozygosity and shell morphometrics, resulting in increased motility of mussels. As a consequence, more motile mussels are lost at a disproportionate rate when they emerge to the surface of a mussel bed or to the periphery of a suspension culture because they are at greater risk for fall-off or predation. Dislodgement is dependent on byssal thread attachment strength, hence, identifying a relationship between genetic diversity and byssal thread numbers and attachment strength may provide insights into the observed heterozygote deficiencies. help assess the validity of the dislodgement hypothesis. To this end, we compare motility (as measured by emergence time from a gravel bin), byssogenesis, and byssal thread attachment strength of heterozygous and homozygous individuals from a wild and a farmed mussel population in New Hampshire.


  • Daniels EQ, Litvaitis MK. 2016. Linking heterozygosity and morphometrics with motility and attachment strength in blue mussels (Mytilus edulis). Annual Benthic Ecology Meetings, Portland, Maine March 2016





byssal threads


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