External shape differences between sympatric populations of commercial clams Tapes decussatus and T. philippinarum.
Costa, C.; Menesatti, P.; Aguzzi, J.; D’Andrea, S.; Antonucci, F.; Rimatori, V.; Pallottino, P.; Mattoccia, M.
Food and Bioprocess Technology
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The actual Italian production of clams is chiefly sustained by the native Tapes decussatus and the fortuitously imported Tapes philippinarum. Both species are commercialized as “Vongola verace”, but the commercial value of T. philippinarum is lower. The discrimination of species by sight is usually difficult and it cannot be done by observation based on shell morphology but only when animals open their valves hence displaying the two siphons. In this study, we propose a new, noninvasive method to discriminate individuals of both species based on the analysis of the external shape of their shells. Accordingly, in sympatric populations at two sites of the Po river outlet, we have chosen individuals (63 for T. decussatus and 57 for T. philippinarum) of comparable commercial size for which a certain genetic discrimination was previously done. Pictures of the left side valve were taken for all specimens. Their profiles were analyzed with the elliptic Fourier analysis. The mean outline for each species was graphically extracted. The coefficients of the harmonic equations were analyzed by multivariate classification (partial least squares discriminant analysis [PLSDA]). Results showed a high percentage of correct classification of individuals of both species (96.6%). Contour analysis reflected the overall shell shape and thus identified morphological aspects that were difficult to recognize and quantify in sight. The high percentage of correct classifications obtained by combining the analysis of elliptic Fourier harmonics with PLSDA demonstrated the feasibility of this method to discriminate species with a high level of resemblance.