• Apollonia;
  • cytochrome b;
  • Gobiidae;
  • introduced species;
  • microsatellites;
  • Neogobius melanostomus;
  • population genetics


The Eurasian round goby Neogobius melanostomus (Apollonia melanostoma) invaded the North American Great Lakes in 1990 through ballast water, spread rapidly, and now is widely distributed and moving through adjacent tributaries. We analyse its genetic diversity and divergence patterns among 25 North American (N = 744) and 22 Eurasian (N = 414) locations using mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b gene sequences and seven nuclear microsatellite loci in order to: (i) identify the invasion's founding source(s), (ii) test for founder effects, (iii) evaluate whether the invasive range is genetically heterogeneous, and (iv) determine whether fringe and central areas differ in genetic diversity. Tests include FST analogues, neighbour-joining trees, haplotype networks, Bayesian assignment, Monmonier barrier analysis, and three-dimensional factorial correspondence analysis. We recovered 13 cytochrome b haplotypes and 232 microsatellite alleles in North America and compared these to variation we previously described across Eurasia. Results show: (i) the southern Dnieper River population was the primary Eurasian donor source for the round goby's invasion of North America, likely supplemented by some alleles from the Dniester and Southern Bug rivers, (ii) the overall invasion has high genetic diversity and experienced no founder effect, (iii) there is significant genetic structuring across North America, and (iv) some expansion areas show reduced numbers of alleles, whereas others appear to reflect secondary colonization. Sampling sites in Lake Huron's Saginaw Bay and Lake Ontario significantly differ from all others, having unique alleles that apparently originated from separate introductions. Substantial genetic variation, multiple founding sources, large number of propagules, and population structure thus likely aided the goby's ecological success.