LIFE SCIENCE

Scientists decipher the genome of the first deep-sea crustacean (deep-sea lice).


Deep sea lice are large and the pathways related to the efficient use of nutrients Image courtesy of the ocean

Structural characteristics of foot body types such as different ecological niches Provided by the ocean

Recently, Li Fuhua, a researcher at the Institute of Oceanography of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Li Xinzheng’s research group collaborated to decipher the genome of bathynomus jamesi, the world’s first deep-sea crustacean, and revealed the unique molecular genetic mechanism of the huge size of the deep-sea lice and the adaptation of the deep-sea oligotrophic environment.

This study is the first report on the genome of deep-sea crustaceans after deep-sea molluscs and deep-sea tubeworms, which provides important molecular evidence for revealing the unique evolutionary and genetic mechanisms of deep-sea environmental adaptation of crustaceans. The research was published in the biology top journal BMC Biology.

Isopods are the few crustaceans that contain both aquatic, semi-terrestrial and fully terrestrial species, as well as deep-sea and shallow-sea species. There are huge differences in body size among taxa at different ecological niches, among which deep-sea and other foot species show a phenomenon of large size.

Theoretically, the deep-sea environment is extremely harsh, and its oligotrophic environment is not conducive to the survival of giant organisms, because it requires more absolute energy. Deep sea lice are representative species of deep-sea giant isopods, which are widely concerned for maintaining the world’s longest hunger strike time record, which can be recorded for more than 5 years. Deciphering the genome of deep sea lice provides an important basis for revealing the unique molecular mechanisms by which giant crustaceans adapt to the deep-sea oligotrophic environment.

The researchers first completed the sequencing and assembly of the deep sea lice genome, and constructed a high-quality genome map with a genome assembly size of 5.89 Gb, which is the largest species of genome among crustaceans currently sequenced. Studies have found that the content of transposon elements in its genome is as high as 84%, which is an important reason for the expansion of the genome. Through comparative genomics analysis, the researchers found that genes in multiple growth-related signaling pathways within the deep-sea lice genome underwent significant expansion, including two thyroid and insulin hormone signaling pathways, mTOR signaling pathways, and Hippo signaling pathways, suggesting that the formation of deep-sea lice body sizemaking may be closely related to its enhanced growth-related signaling pathways.

Deep sea lice have a huge stomach filled with food, accounting for 2/3 of the body’s volume, and also have a well-developed tissue for storing organic matter – liposomes. In order to analyze the mechanism of efficient use of nutrients in deep sea lice, the researchers performed transcriptome sequencing and analysis of different tissues of deep sea lice, and found that a large number of genes related to glucose metabolism and membrane bubble transport were significantly expanded on the genome of deep sea lice and specifically expressed in the stomach and intestine, suggesting that it may be related to the efficient use of energy.

In addition, the researchers found that the accumulation of lipids in the body is mainly due to its lower lipid metabolism efficiency, rather than its efficient lipid synthesis ability.

The research has been funded by the National Key Research and Development Program and the National Natural Science Foundation of China. (Source: China Science Daily, Liao Yang, Li Hezhao)

Related paper information:https://doi.org/10.1186/s12915-022-01302-6



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