Although high-throughput proteomics has been widely applied to study mechanisms of environmental adaptation, the conclusions from studies that are based on one species can be confounded by phylogeny. We compare the freshwater snail Pomacea canaliculata (a notorious invasive species) and its congener Pomacea diffusa (a non-invasive species) to understand the molecular mechanisms of their differential resistance to hypoxia. A 72-h acute exposure experiment showed that P. canaliculata is more tolerant to hypoxia than P. diffusa. The two species were then exposed to three levels of dissolved oxygen (6.7, 2.0 and 1.0mgL−1) for 8h, and their gill proteins were analyzed using iTRAQ-coupled LC-MS/MS. The two species showed striking differences in protein expression profiles, with the more hypoxia tolerant P. canaliculata having more up-regulated proteins in signal transduction and down-regulated proteins in glycolysis and the tricarboxylic acid cycle. Evolutionary analysis revealed five orthologous genes encoding differentially expressed proteins having clear signal of positive selection, indicating selection has acted on some of the hypoxia responsive genes. Our case study has highlighted the potential of integrated proteomics and comparative evolutionary analysis for understanding the genetic basis of adaptation to global environmental change in non-model species. SignificanceRapid globalization in recent decades has greatly facilitated species introduction around the world. Successfully established introduced species, so-called invasive species, have threatened the invaded ecosystems. There has been substantial interest in studying how invasive species respond to extreme environmental conditions because the results can help not only predict their range of expansion and manage their impact, but also may reveal the adaptive mechanisms underlying their invasiveness. Our study has adopted a comparative approach to study the differential physiological and proteomic responses of two congeneric snails to various hypoxic conditions, as well as codon substitution analysis at transcriptomic level to detect signals of positive selection in hypoxia-responsive genes. The integrated physiological, proteomic and transcriptomic approach can be applied in other non-model species to understand the molecular mechanisms of adaptation to global environmental change.
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This work was supported by the General Research Fund of Hong Kong (grant no.HKBU261312 and HKBU12301415) and Hong Kong Baptist University (grant no.SDF 15-1012-P04). We thank Dr. Brent L. Lockwood for providing an R script for ANOVA, Dr. Runsheng Li for advice on statistical analysis, and Ms. Haoyu Zhang for assistance in setting up the hypoxia exposure system.