Population genomic footprints of environmental pollution pressure in natural populations of the Mediterranean mussel

Bivalve molluscs of the genus Mytilus are considered a model organism in ecotoxicology and are known to be well adapted to marine ecosystems affected by multiple anthropogenic factors, including pollution. In order to assess whether pollution interferes with the reproductive success of Mytilus and affects the diversity within and between populations, we sequenced the transcriptomes of 72 individuals from 9 populations of Mytilus galloprovincialis collected along a ca. 130-km north-south transect on the Western coast of the Iberian Peninsula. We found that polluted areas are acting as a barrier to gene flow, potentially because of the detrimental effect of anthropogenic chemicals on larvae carried from more pristine environments. Furthermore, we observed an increase in genetic diversity in populations from polluted site, which could be indicative of higher mutagenicity driven by the environment. We propose that a microevolutionary perspective is essential for a full characterization of human activities on the dispersal of M. galloprovincialis and that it should be incorporated into management, and conservation plans and policies in the context of the effects of pollution on populations.