Epigenetic inheritance and intergenerational effects in mollusks

Recent insights in evolutionary biology have shed light on epigenetic variation that interacts with genetic variation to convey heritable information. An important characteristic of epigenetic changes is that they can be produced in response to environmental cues and passed on to later generations, potentially facilitating later genetic adaptation. While our understanding of epigenetic mechanisms in vertebrates is rapidly growing, our knowledge about invertebrates remains lower, or is restricted to model organisms. Mollusks in particular, are a large group of invertebrates, with several species important for ecosystem function, human economy and health. In this review, we attempt to summarize the literature on epigenetic and intergenerational studies in mollusk species, with potential importance for adaptive evolution. Our review highlights that two molecular bearers of epigenetic information, DNA methylation and histone modifications, are key features for development in mollusk species, and both are sensitive to environmental conditions to which developing individuals are exposed. Further, although studies are still scarce, various environmental factors (e.g. predator cues, chemicals, parasites) can induce intergenerational effects on the phenotype (life-history traits, morphology, behaviour) of several mollusk taxa. More work is needed to better understand whether environmentally-induced changes in DNA methylation and histone modifications have phenotypic impacts, whether they can be inherited through generations and their role in intergenerational effects on phenotype. Such work may bring insight into the potential role of epigenetic in adaptation and evolution in mollusks.


Mollusk, Epigenetic, Intergenerational effect, Phenotypic plasticity, Adaptation

Full Text

Author's final draft
611 Mo
Publisher's official version
141 Mo
How to cite
Fallet Manon, Luquet Emilien, David Patrice, Cosseau Céline (2020). Epigenetic inheritance and intergenerational effects in mollusks. Gene. 729. 144166 (14p.). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gene.2019.144166, https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00590/70163/

Copy this text