1 General anatomy 2 Life habits
2.1 Feeding 2.2 Reproduction 2.3 Predators
3 Distribution and habitat 4 Aquaculture
4.1 Culture methods 4.2 Harvest
5 Medical 6 Environmental applications 7 Mussels and nutrient mitigation 8 Conservation
8.1 Freshwater Mussels
9 As food
9.1 Preparation 9.2 Nutrition highlights
10 See also 11 References 12 External links
Marine blue mussel, Mytilus edulis, showing some of the inner anatomy. The white posterior adductor muscle is visible in the upper image, and has been cut in the lower image to allow the valves to open fully.
Flight around a 3D-Rendering of a µCT-Scan of a young Mytilus that is
almost completely covered with
The mussel's external shell is composed of two hinged halves or
"valves". The valves are joined together on the outside by a ligament,
and are closed when necessary by strong internal muscles (anterior and
posterior adductor muscles).
The shell has three layers. In the pearly mussels there is an inner iridescent layer of nacre (mother-of-pearl) composed of calcium carbonate, which is continuously secreted by the mantle; the prismatic layer, a middle layer of chalky white crystals of calcium carbonate in a protein matrix; and the periostracum, an outer pigmented layer resembling a skin. The periostracum is composed of a protein called conchin, and its function is to protect the prismatic layer from abrasion and dissolution by acids (especially important in freshwater forms where the decay of leaf materials produces acids). Like most bivalves, mussels have a large organ called a foot. In freshwater mussels, the foot is large, muscular, and generally hatchet-shaped. It is used to pull the animal through the substrate (typically sand, gravel, or silt) in which it lies partially buried. It does this by repeatedly advancing the foot through the substrate, expanding the end so it serves as an anchor, and then pulling the rest of the animal with its shell forward. It also serves as a fleshy anchor when the animal is stationary. In marine mussels, the foot is smaller, tongue-like in shape, with a groove on the ventral surface which is continuous with the byssus pit. In this pit, a viscous secretion is exuded, entering the groove and hardening gradually upon contact with sea water. This forms extremely tough, strong, elastic, byssal threads that secure the mussel to its substrate allowing it to remain sessile in areas of high flow. The byssal thread is also sometimes used by mussels as a defensive measure, to tether predatory molluscs, such as dog whelks, that invade mussel beds, immobilising them and thus starving them to death. In cooking, the byssus of the mussel is known as the "beard" and is removed before the mussels are prepared.
A Mytilus with its byssus clearly showing, at Ocean Beach, San Francisco, California
A starfish consuming a mussel in Northern California
Feeding Both marine and freshwater mussels are filter feeders; they feed on plankton and other microscopic sea creatures which are free-floating in seawater. A mussel draws water in through its incurrent siphon. The water is then brought into the branchial chamber by the actions of the cilia located on the gills for ciliary-mucus feeding. The wastewater exits through the excurrent siphon. The labial palps finally funnel the food into the mouth, where digestion begins. Marine mussels are usually found clumping together on wave-washed rocks, each attached to the rock by its byssus. The clumping habit helps hold the mussels firm against the force of the waves. At low tide mussels in the middle of a clump will undergo less water loss because of water capture by the other mussels. Reproduction Both marine and freshwater mussels are gonochoristic, with separate male and female individuals. In marine mussels, fertilization occurs outside the body, with a larval stage that drifts for three weeks to six months, before settling on a hard surface as a young mussel. There, it is capable of moving slowly by means of attaching and detaching byssal threads to attain a better life position. Freshwater mussels reproduce sexually. Sperm is released by the male directly into the water and enters the female via the incurrent siphon. After fertilization, the eggs develop into a larval stage called a glochidium (plural glochidia), which temporarily parasitizes fish, attaching themselves to the fish's fins or gills. Prior to their release, the glochidia grow in the gills of the female mussel where they are constantly flushed with oxygen-rich water. In some species, release occurs when a fish attempts to attack the mussel's minnow or other mantle flaps shaped like prey; an example of aggressive mimicry. Glochidia are generally species-specific, and will only live if they find the correct fish host. Once the larval mussels attach to the fish, the fish body reacts to cover them with cells forming a cyst, where the glochidia remain for two to five weeks (depending on temperature). They grow, break free from the host, and drop to the bottom of the water to begin an independent life. Predators Marine mussels are eaten by humans, starfish, seabirds, and by numerous species of predatory marine gastropods in the family Muricidae, such as the dog whelk, Nucella lapillus. Freshwater mussels are eaten by otters, raccoons, ducks, baboons, humans (off the coast of South Africa)[further explanation needed] and geese, although the main cause of mortality is starfish.
Distribution and habitat
Mussels completely covering rocks in intertidal zone, in Dalian, Liaoning Province, China
Marine mussels are abundant in the low and mid intertidal zone in temperate seas globally. Other species of marine mussel live in tropical intertidal areas, but not in the same huge numbers as in temperate zones. Certain species of marine mussels prefer salt marshes or quiet bays, while others thrive in pounding surf, completely covering wave-washed rocks. Some species have colonized abyssal depths near hydrothermal vents. The South African white mussel exceptionally doesn't bind itself to rocks but burrows into sandy beaches extending two tubes above the sand surface for ingestion of food and water and exhausting wastes. Freshwater mussels inhabit permanent lakes, rivers, canals and streams throughout the world except in the polar regions. They require a constant source of cool, clean water. They prefer water with a substantial mineral content, using calcium carbonate to build their shells.
Bouchots are marine pilings for growing mussels, here shown at an agricultural fair.
Longline culture (rope culture) mussel farm in Bay of Kotor, (Montenegro).
Freshwater mussels are used as host animals for the cultivation of
freshwater pearls. Some species of marine mussel, including the Blue
mussel (Mytilus edulis) and the
New Zealand green-lipped mussel
Bouchot culture: Intertidal growth technique, or bouchot technique:
pilings, known in French as bouchots, are planted at sea; ropes, on
which the mussels grow, are tied in a spiral on the pilings; some mesh
netting prevents the mussels from falling away. This method needs an
extended tidal zone.
On-bottom culture: On-bottom culture is based on the principle of
transferring mussel seed (spat) from areas where they have settled
naturally to areas where they can be placed in lower densities to
increase growth rates, facilitate harvest, and control predation
Harvest In roughly 12–15 months, mussels reach marketable size (40mm) and are ready for harvest. Harvesting methods depend on the grow-out area and the rearing method being used. Dredges are currently used for on-bottom culture. Mussels grown on wooden poles can be harvested by hand or with a hydraulic powered system. For raft and longline culture, a platform is typically lowered under the mussel lines, which are then cut from the system and brought to the surface and dumped into containers on a nearby vessel. After harvest, mussels are typically placed in seawater tanks to rid them of impurities before marketing.
Cleaning mussels in a mussel farm (Bay of Kotor, Montenegro).
Medical Byssal threads, used to anchor mussels to substrates, are now recognized as superior bonding agents. A number of studies have investigated mussel "glues" for industrial and surgical applications. Additionally byssal threads have provided insight into the construction of artificial tendons. Environmental applications Mussels are widely used as bio-indicators to monitor the health of aquatic environments in both fresh water and the marine environments. They are particularly useful since they are distributed worldwide and they are sessile. These characteristics ensure that they are representative of the environment where they are sampled or placed. Their population status or structure, physiology, behaviour or the level of contamination with elements or compounds can indicate the status of the ecosystem. Mussels and nutrient mitigation Marine nutrient bioextraction is the practice of farming and harvesting marine organisms such as shellfish and seaweed for the purpose of reducing nutrient pollution. Mussels and other bivalve shellfish consume phytoplankton containing nutrients such as nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). On average, one live mussel is 1.0% N and 0.1% P. When the mussels are harvested and removed, these nutrients are also removed from the system and recycled in the form of seafood or mussel biomass, which can be used as an organic fertilizer or animal feed-additive. These ecosystem services provided by mussels are of particular interest to those hoping to mitigate excess anthropogenic marine nutrients, particularly in eutrophic marine systems. While mussel aquaculture is actually promoted in some countries such as Sweden as a water management strategy to address coastal eutrophication, mussel farming as a nutrient mitigation tool is still in its infancy in most parts of the world. Ongoing efforts in the Baltic Sea (Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Poland) and Long Island Sound and Puget Sound in the U.S. are currently examining nutrient uptake, cost-effectiveness, and potential environmental impacts of mussel farming as a means to mitigate excess nutrients and complement traditional wastewater treatment programs. Conservation Freshwater Mussels In the United States and Canada, areas home to the most diverse freshwater mussel fauna in the world, there are 297 known freshwater mussel taxa. Of the 297 known species, 213 (71.7%) taxa are listed as endangered, threatened, of special concern. The main factors contributing to the decline of freshwater mussels include destruction from dams, increased siltation, channel modification, and the introduction of invasive species like the Zebra mussel. As food
The Asian green mussel, Perna viridis, gathered in Chonburi Province, Thailand
Humans have used mussels as food for thousands of years. About 17
species are edible, of which the most commonly eaten are Mytilus
edulis, M. galloprovincialis, M. trossellus and Perna canaliculus.
Freshwater mussels nowadays are generally considered to be
unpalatable, though the native peoples in North America ate them
extensively. During the second World War in the United States, mussels
were commonly served in diners. This was due to the unavailability of
red meat related to wartime rationing.
In Belgium, the Netherlands, and France, mussels are consumed with
french fries ("mosselen met friet" or "moules-frites") or bread. In
Belgium, mussels are sometimes served with fresh herbs and flavorful
vegetables in a stock of butter and white wine. Fries and Belgian beer
sometimes are accompaniments. In the Netherlands, mussels are
sometimes served fried in batter or breadcrumbs, particularly at
take-out food outlets or informal settings. In France, the Éclade des
Moules, or, locally, Terré de Moules, is a mussel bake that can be
found along the beaches of the Bay of Biscay.
In Italy, mussels are mixed with other sea food, they are consumed
often steam cooked (most popular), sometimes with white wine, herbs,
and served with the remaining water and some lemon. In Spain, they are
consumed mostly steam cooked, sometimes boiling white wine, onion and
herbs, and served with the remaining water and some lemon. They can
also be eaten as "tigres", a sort of croquette using the mussel meat,
shrimps and other pieces of fish in a thick bechamel then breaded and
fried in the clean mussel shell. They are used in other sort of dishes
such as rices or soups or commonly eaten canned in a pickling brine
made of oil, vinegar, peppercorns, bay leaves and paprika.
In Turkey, mussels are either covered with flour and fried on shishs
('midye tava'), or filled with rice and served cold ('midye dolma')
and are usually consumed after alcohol (mostly raki or beer).
They are used in Ireland boiled and seasoned with vinegar, with the
"bray" or boiling water as a supplementary hot drink.
In Cantonese cuisine, mussels are cooked in a broth of garlic and
fermented black bean. In New Zealand, they are served in a chili or
garlic-based vinaigrette, processed into fritters and fried, or used
as the base for a chowder.
In India, mussels are popular in Kerala, Maharashtra,
Karnataka-Bhatkal, and Goa. They are either prepared with drumsticks,
breadfruit or other vegetables, or filled with rice and coconut paste
with spices and served hot. Fried mussels ('Kadukka'
കടുക്ക in Malayalam) of north
A mussel dish with cherry tomatoes and croutons
Simple mussels roasting in a mussel farm (Bay of Kotor, Montenegro.
Mussels can be smoked, boiled, steamed, roasted, barbecued or fried in
butter or vegetable oil. As with all shellfish, except shrimp, mussels
should be checked to ensure they are still alive just before they are
cooked; enzymes quickly break down the meat and make them unpalatable
or poisonous after dying or uncooked. Some mussels
might contain toxins. A simple criterion is that live mussels,
when in the air, will shut tightly when disturbed. Open, unresponsive
mussels are dead, and must be discarded. Unusually heavy, wild-caught,
closed mussels may be discarded as they may contain only mud or sand.
(They can be tested by slightly opening the shell halves.) A thorough
rinse in water and removal of "the beard" is suggested.
Raw blue mussels
Serving size 3 ounces (85 g)
Protein 10.1 g
Carbohydrate 3.1 g
Fiber 0.0 g
Total fat 1.9 g
Saturated fat 0.4 g
Sodium 243 mg
Excellent source of: selenium (44.8 µg), and vitamin B12 (12 µg) Good source of: zinc (1.6 mg), and folate (42 µg)
Foods that are an "excellent source" of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the recommended daily value. Foods that are a "good source" of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the recommended daily value. See also
Marine life portal Food portal
^ a b The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica (22 May 2009). "Mussel".
^ Vaccaro, Eleonora; Waite, J. Herbert (2001-09-01). "Yield and
Post-Yield Behavior of
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