Molecular basis of ocean acidification sensitivity and adaptation in Mytilus galloprovincialis

One challenge in global change biology is to identify the mechanisms underpinning physiological sensitivities to environmental change and to predict their potential to adapt to future conditions. Using ocean acidification as the representative stressor, molecular pathways associated with abnormal larval development of a globally distributed marine mussel are identified. The targeted developmental stage was the trochophore stage, which is, for a few hours, pH sensitive and is the main driver of developmental success. RNA sequencing and in situ RNA hybridization were used to identify processes associated with abnormal development, and DNA sequencing was used to identify which processes evolve when larvae are exposed to low pH for the full duration of their larval stage. Trochophores exposed to low pH exhibited 43 differentially expressed genes. Thirteen genes, none of which have previously been identified in mussel trochophores, including three unknown genes, were expressed in the shell field. Gene annotation and in situ hybridization point to two core processes associated with the response to low pH: development of the trochophore shell field and the cellular stress response. Encompassing both of these processes, five genes demonstrated changes in allele frequency that are indicative of rapid adaptation. Thus, genes underpinning the most pH-sensitive developmental processes also exhibit scope to adapt via genetic variation currently maintained in the mussel population. These results provide evidence that protecting existing genetic diversity is a critical management action to maximize the potential for rapid adaptation under a changing environment.

Lydia K., Bitter M. C., Miglioli A., Pelejero C., Gattuso J.-P. & Dumollard R., 2021. Molecular basis of ocean acidification sensitivity and adaptation in Mytilus galloprovincialis. bioRxiv. Article.


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