Details: Freshwater mussels are among the most imperiled groups of organisms on the planet. Yet, compared to other groups like mammals and fish, they are woefully understudied. In order for conservation plans to be successful, managers need data on a range of topics, including toxicology, systematics and taxonomy, landscape genetics, and genetic management of propagated populations. Here, I will provide an overview of ongoing mussel research at the USFWS Southeast Conservation Genetics Lab, with an emphasis on genomic tools for enhancing management outcomes. I will briefly give a history of mussel genetics work, but I will focus on emerging technologies and exciting research directions. New genomic tools being used by USFWS provide high resolution data for answering questions about genetic diversity across a species’ range, patterns of gene flow, and how species are genetically responding to changing environments. Genomic data can also be used to assess how current best-practice captive propagation protocols influence genetic diversity of captively reared and reintroduced populations. During this talk, I will use the federally threatened Louisiana Pearlshell (Margaritifera hembeli) as a model to explain how genomic data are increasing our understanding of a critically imperiled freshwater mussel. Recent work from my lab has revealed low genomic diversity in Louisiana Pearlshell but a surprising amount of gene flow among remaining populations. We also demonstrated that Louisiana Pearlshell females mate with multiple males in the wild, which has implications for best-practice propagation protocols. Finally, I will talk about new technologies being used by USFWS that are enabling assembly of cost-effective reference genomes for non-model organisms like freshwater mussels, and I will discuss how such data can be used to examine selection at the genomic level. Conservationists face many challenges to ensuring the survival of freshwater mussels, but new genomic technologies have great potential for improving management outcomes.