Evolutionary genomics in a marine global invader

Human-mediated introductions and the spread of non-native species are having profound effects on marine ecosystems. While the capacity of species to exploit new marine environments is fundamental for understanding the potential for some species to become invasive, a key unresolved question involves whether successful invasive species are already physiologically suited to novel environmental conditions, or if colonization implicates genetic changes in genes underlying physiological tolerance. My PhD research will evaluate the role of pre-existing physiological tolerance and local adaptation in the spread of the Mediterranean marine mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis, one of the world’s most widely established invasive species. Using next generation sequencing methods, genomic comparisons among closely related Mytilus congeners, and globally independent invasive M. galloprovincialis populations will facilitate an investigation of species- and population-level differentiation, and signatures of selection across the coding genome that may underlie invasive potential in this species group. These data will provide evidence for understanding the genetic basis of traits underlying adaptation in marine invasive spread. I am also interested in the role of hybridization between native and introduced species in mediating genetic changes, potentially contributing to a species’ ability to occupy new environments.