Mytilus mussels and their Environment: a phenotypic and genomic Exploration through Time

Credit: C. Der Sarkissian and M.K. Sejr

How are wild Mytilus mussels affected by their environment?

This is what MEET aims at better understanding by exploring the biological variation of Mytilus mussels along environmental gradients from the Baltic Sea to Greenland in the course of the last 9,000 years.

The environmental changes undergone by oceans and coasts have reached unprecedented scales and speeds in the last 200 years of increasing human activities. The associated temperature rise, acidification, and altered biogeochemical composition of seawater constitute a mosaic of stressors for marine shell-producing organisms, potentially influencing their ability to calcify, their integrity and vulnerability to predators, and eventually affect configurations of communities.

The distribution of Mytilus mussels across diverse environments and the preservation of their shells over long time periods provides the opportunity to investigate the impact of environmental conditions at both geographical and temporal scales. MEET proposes to develop a multi-proxy approach to characterise, at high-resolution, the variation of Mytilus mussels in their shell morphology and genomic landscape by bringing together the latest techniques in 3D morphometrics, (ancient) genomics and paleo-environment reconstructions. This approach, applied to a collection of North Atlantic shells dated to the last 9,000 years, will help shed a light on the interplay between the phenotypic and genomic responses of Mytilus mussels to environmental changes even prior to the Industrial Revolution.

The scope of MEET is relevant to the on-going and future environmental challenges faced by our societies, such as global warming and pollution intensification, and their damaging consequences on biodiversity.

Project participants: