Unique Cave Clam Runs for the ‘Mollusc of the Year 2021’ Title
The highly endangered Dinaric cave clam, Congeria kusceri is the only freshwater bivalve in the world which inhabits exclusively caves. This small bivalve has successfully mastered social distancing for five million years.
Living in secluded karst cave systems of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, it has survived environmental perturbations that lead to extinction of all other Congeria species.
For all these reasons, it has been nominated for the “Mollusc of the Year 2021” by scientists dr. Helena Bilandžija and Magdalena Grgić from Rudjer Boskovic Institute, Croatia and dr. Marco Gerdol from University of Trieste. A professional committee has selected Congeria as one of the five nominees among 120 applicants from all over the world.
This initiative is a joint venture by Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum Frankfurt, and the LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (LOEWE TBG). The winner for the "Mollusc of the Year 2021" will be decided by a public vote and will get its genome sequenced.
Like many cave animals, Congeria has developed numerous adaptations to life in caves. The most distinctive ones include loss of pigmentation, loss of visual senses, changes in life-history strategy and increased longevity. Having Congeria genome sequenced would enable answering important questions about speciation and adaptations of cave animals!