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Chilean mussel facts for kids

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Chilean mussel
Mytilus chilensis.JPG
Scientific classification
Mytilus chilensis
Hupé, 1854
Mytilus desolationis
Lamy, 1936

The Chilean mussel or Chilean blue mussel (Mytilus platensis) is a species of blue mussel native to the coasts of Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, the Falkland Islands and the Kerguelen islands. In the scientific literature, it has also been referred to as Southern Mytilus edulis, or Mytilus edulis platensis, or Mytilus chilensis.


M. platensis is under intensive aquaculture in Chile. From 2004 to 2008 the annual commercial harvest increased from 80,000 to 200,000 tonnes. Following a decrease in 2009, the production was back at high level in 2010. Over 45,000 tonnes of mussels were exported from Chile in 2008, 93% of them frozen. Some 74% of exports are to the EU, primarily Spain and France, and 15% to the United States.


Alcide d’Orbigny first described the species as Mytilus platensis d'Orbigny, 1842, but in scientific literature it was long mainly known with its junior synonym name Mytilus chilensis . Mytilus platensis is part of the world-wide Mytilus edulis complex of mussels, or blue mussels. Genetic studies based on nuclear markers have suggested that the Chilean mussel has features of both the Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis) and the North Atlantic Mytilus edulis. Some authors have suggested that the Montevideo mussel be considered either as M. galloprovincialis or as a subspecies of it, Mytilus galloprovincialis chilensis. Others however have recognized several blue mussel species in South America, including native M. platensis, introduced M. galloprovincialis from the Mediterranean, and possibly-introduced M. planulatus. Using nuclear DNA markers, Borsa et al. (2012) confirmed earlier results from allozymes that most populations in the south of the South American continent indeed represent a native Southern Hemisphere lineage of the blue mussel, for which they suggested to use the subspecies name Mytilus edulis platensis (now M. platensis). The same authors questioned the earlier identifications of the Montevideo mussel in Southern Chile as "M. galloprovincialis" because the genetic markers then used could not help distinguishing M. galloprovincialis from any of the two native blue mussel species from the Southern Hemisphere, now referred to as M. planulatus and M. platensis. Moreover, M. platensis populations in southern Chile show slight introgression from M. planulatus.

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