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Keywords:

  • EcoP15I-tagged digital gene expression;
  • marine bivalve;
  • thermal stress;
  • weighted gene coexpression network analysis

Abstract

Marine organisms are commonly exposed to variable environmental conditions, and many of them are under threat from increased sea temperatures caused by global climate change. Generating transcriptomic resources under different stress conditions are crucial for understanding molecular mechanisms underlying thermal adaptation. In this study, we conducted transcriptome-wide gene expression profiling of the scallop Chlamys farreri challenged by acute and chronic heat stress. Of the 13 953 unique tags, more than 850 were significantly differentially expressed at each time point after acute heat stress, which was more than the number of tags differentially expressed (320–350) under chronic heat stress. To obtain a systemic view of gene expression alterations during thermal stress, a weighted gene coexpression network was constructed. Six modules were identified as acute heat stress-responsive modules. Among them, four modules involved in apoptosis regulation, mRNA binding, mitochondrial envelope formation and oxidation reduction were downregulated. The remaining two modules were upregulated. One was enriched with chaperone and the other with microsatellite sequences, whose coexpression may originate from a transcription factor binding site. These results indicated that C. farreri triggered several cellular processes to acclimate to elevated temperature. No modules responded to chronic heat stress, suggesting that the scallops might have acclimated to elevated temperature within 3 days. This study represents the first sequencing-based gene network analysis in a nonmodel aquatic species and provides valuable gene resources for the study of thermal adaptation, which should assist in the development of heat-tolerant scallop lines for aquaculture.