First report of the invasive golden apple snail, Pomacea canaliculata in Kenya.


Following reports of an invasive snail causing crop damage in the expansive Mwea irrigation scheme in Kenya, samples of snails and associated egg masses were collected and sent to CABI laboratories in the UK for molecular identification. DNA barcoding analyses using the cytochrome oxidase subunit I gene confirmed the identity of the snails as Pomacea canaliculata, widely considered to be one of the most invasive invertebrates of waterways and irrigation systems worldwide. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first record of P. canaliculata in Kenya, and the first confirmed record of an established population in continental Africa. This timely identification shows the benefit of molecular identification when combined with a reliable database such as that provided by the Barcoding of Life Data system. We found that the egg masses tested gave an identical barcode sequence to the adult snails, allowing identifications to be made more rapidly. Given the impact of this species in Asia, there is need for an assessment of the risk to Africa, and the implementation of an appropriate response in Kenya and elsewhere to manage this new threat to agriculture and the environment.

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