Color polymorphism is a classic study system for evolutionary genetics. One of the most color-polymorphic animal taxa is mollusks, but the investigation of the genetic basis of color determination is often hindered by their life history and the limited avail-ability of genetic resources. Here, we report on the discovery of shell color polymor-phism in a much-used model species, the great pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis. While their shell is usually beige, some individuals from a Greek population show a distinct red shell color, which we nicknamed Ginger. Moreover, we found that the inheritance fits simple, single-locus Mendelian inheritance with dominance of the Ginger allele. We also compared crucial life-history traits between Ginger and wild-type individuals, and found no differences between morphs. We conclude that the relative simplicity of this polymorphism will provide new opportunities for a deeper understanding of the genetic basis of shell color polymorphism and its evolutionary origin.

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Ecology and Evolution

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Staff publications

Ledder, Matthijs, Nakadera, Yumi, Staikou, Alexandra, & Koene, J. M. (2023). Dominant gingers – Discovery and inheritance of a new shell polymorphism in the great pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis. Ecology and Evolution, 13(12). doi:10.1002/ece3.10678