A hybrid zone between hydrothermal vent mussels (Bivalvia: Mytilidae) from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge

Mol Ecol. 2001 Dec;10(12):2819-31. doi: 10.1046/j.0962-1083.2001.01401.x.


This study provides the first example of a hybrid zone between animal taxa distributed along the mid-ocean ridge system. We examined the distribution and genetic structure of deep-sea hydrothermal vent mussels (Bivalvia: Mytilidae) along a 2888-km portion of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge between 37 degrees 50' N and 14 degrees 45' N latitude. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), allozymes and multivariate-morphometric evidence discriminated between individuals of a northern species, Bathymodiolus azoricus, and a southern species, B. puteoserpentis, that were separated by an intermediate ridge segment almost devoid of mussels. A small sample of mussels from Broken Spur, a vent locality along this intermediate zone, revealed a mixed population with gene frequencies and morphology that were broadly intermediate to those of the northern and southern species. Multilocus clines in mtDNA and allozyme frequencies were centred over the intermediate zone. We consider intrinsic and extrinsic processes that might limit genetic exchange across this hybrid zone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atlantic Ocean
  • Bivalvia / anatomy & histology
  • Bivalvia / genetics*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / chemistry
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Ecology*
  • Isoenzymes / chemistry
  • Isoenzymes / genetics
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Isoenzymes