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Exon-primed, intron-crossing (EPIC) loci for five nuclear genes in deep-sea protobranch bivalves: primer design, PCR protocols and locus utility


Robert M. Jennings, Fax: +1 617 287 6650; E-mail:


We describe PCR primers and amplification protocols developed to obtain introns from conserved nuclear genes in deep-sea protobranch bivalves. Because almost no sequence data for protobranchs are publically available, mollusk and other protostome sequences from GenBank were used to design degenerate primers, making these loci potentially useful in other invertebrate taxa. Amplification and sequencing success varied across the test group of 30 species, and we present five loci spanning this range of outcomes. Intron presence in the targeted regions also varied across genes and species, often within single genera; for instance, the calmodulin and β-tubulin loci contained introns with high frequency, whereas the triose phosphate isomerase locus never contained an intron. In introns for which we were able to obtain preliminary estimates of polymorphism levels in single species, polymorphism was greater than traditional mitochondrial loci. These markers will greatly increase the ability to assess population structure in the ecologically important protobranchs, and may prove useful in other taxa as well.