The transcriptomic responses of the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, to environmental conditions

Molecular Ecology
Robert W ChapmanDenise Sanger

Abstract

Understanding the mechanisms by which organisms adapt to environmental conditions is a fundamental question for ecology and evolution. In this study, we evaluate changes in gene expression of a marine mollusc, the eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica, associated with the physico-chemical conditions and the levels of metals and other contaminants in their environment. The results indicate that transcript signatures can effectively disentangle the complex interactive gene expression responses to the environment and are also capable of disentangling the complex dynamic effects of environmental factors on gene expression. In this context, the mapping of environment to gene and gene to environment is reciprocal and mutually reinforcing. In general, the response of transcripts to the environment is driven by major factors known to affect oyster physiology such as temperature, pH, salinity, and dissolved oxygen, with pollutant levels playing a relatively small role, at least within the range of concentrations found in the studied oyster habitats. Further, the two environmental factors that dominate these effects (temperature and pH) interact in a dynamic and nonlinear fashion to impact gene expression. Transcriptomic data obtained in ...Continue Reading

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