Smooth-shelled blue mussels, Mytilus spp., have a worldwide antitropical distribution and are ecologically and economically important. Mussels of the Mytilus edulis species complex have been the focus of numerous taxonomic and biogeographical studies, in particular in the Northern hemisphere, but the taxonomic classification of mussels from South America remains unclear. The present study analysed 348 mussels from 20 sites in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and the Falkland Islands on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of South America. We sequenced two mitochondrial locus, Cytochrome c Oxidase subunit I (625 bp) and 16S rDNA (443 bp), and one nuclear gene, ribosomal 18S rDNA (1770 bp). Mitochondrial and nuclear loci were analysed separately and in combination using maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference methods to identify the combination of the most informative dataset and model. Species delimitation using five different models (GMYC single, bGMYC, PTP, bPTP and BPP) revealed that the Mytilus edulis complex in South America is represented by three species: native M. chilensis, M. edulis, and introduced Northern Hemisphere M. galloprovincialis. However, all models failed to delimit the putative species Mytilus platensis. In contrast, however, broad spatial scale genetic structure in South America using Geneland software to analyse COI sequence variation revealed a group of native mussels (putatively M. platensis) in central Argentina and the Falkland Islands. We discuss the scope of species delimitation methods and the use of nuclear and mitochondrial genetic data to the recognition of species within the Mytilus edulis complex at regional and global scales.
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