A resource for zebra mussel comparative genomics, invasion genetics, and biocontrol

Zebra mussel genome G3 publication

Congratulations to Dr. Daryl Gohl, PI for the UMGC Innovation Lab, and UMGC scientists, on their publication "The genome of the zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha: a resource for comparative genomics, invasion genetics, and biocontrol" in G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics, a peer-reviewed journal on high-quality foundational research. Their publication was selected for the cover image of the February 2022 issue. 

Researchers used cutting-edge DNA sequencing technologies to produced a chromosome-scale assembly of the zebra mussel genome that will be used to identify biological processes for controlling this invasive species. 

This research was accomplished in collaboration with the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC), the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute (MSI), Phase Genomics, and others. 

Read more about the unveiling of the Zebra mussel genome and resulting media coverage.


The zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha, continues to spread from its native range in Eurasia to Europe and North America, causing billions of dollars in damage and dramatically altering invaded aquatic ecosystems. Despite these impacts, there are few genomic resources for Dreissena or related bivalves. Although the D. polymorpha genome is highly repetitive, we have used a combination of long-read sequencing and Hi-C-based scaffolding to generate a high-quality chromosome-scale genome assembly. Through comparative analysis and transcriptomics experiments, we have gained insights into processes that likely control the invasive success of zebra mussels, including shell formation, synthesis of byssal threads, and thermal tolerance. We identified multiple intact steamer-like elements, a retrotransposon that has been linked to transmissible cancer in marine clams. We also found that D. polymorpha have an unusual 67 kb mitochondrial genome containing numerous tandem repeats, making it the largest observed in Eumetazoa. Together these findings create a rich resource for invasive species research and control efforts.

Michael A McCartney, Benjamin Auch, Thomas Kono, Sophie Mallez, Ying Zhang, Angelico Obille, Aaron Becker, Juan E Abrahante, John Garbe, Jonathan P Badalamenti, Adam Herman, Hayley Mangelson, Ivan Liachko, Shawn Sullivan, Eli D Sone, Sergey Koren, Kevin A T Silverstein, Kenneth B Beckman, Daryl M Gohl

G3 Genes|Genomes|Genetics, doi:10.1093/g3journal/jkab423. 2021 Dec 13.

Innovation Lab

The UMGC Innovation Lab is a research group led by Dr. Daryl Gohl that operates within the University of Minnesota Genomics Center to develop novel tools and technologies for genomics research. Current areas of focus are improving microbiome measurements, development of synthetic standards for NGS applications, tool development for functional genomics, and long read and single-cell sequencing applications. See more publications by the UMGC.