Substantial gene expression shifts during larval transitions in the pearl oyster Pinctada margaritifera

Early development stages in marine bivalve are critical periods where larvae transition from pelagic free‐life to sessile mature individuals. The successive metamorphosis requires the expression of key genes, the functions of which might be under high selective pressure, hence understanding larval development represents key knowledge for both fundamental and applied research. Phenotypic larvae development is well known, but the underlying molecular mechanisms such as associated gene expression dynamic and molecular cross‐talks remains poorly described for several nonmodel species, such as P. margaritifera. We designed a whole transcriptome RNA‐sequencing analysis to describe such gene expression dynamics following four larval developmental stages:  d‐shape, Veliger, Umbo and Eye‐spot. Larval gene expression and annotated functions drastically diverge. Metabolic function (gene expression related to lipid, amino acid and carbohydrate use) is highly upregulated in the first development stages, with increasing demand from  d‐shape to umbo. Morphogenesis and larval transition are partly ordered by Thyroid hormones and Wnt signaling. While larvae shells show some similar characteristic to adult shells, the cause of initialization of biomineralization differ from the one found in adults. The present study provides a global overview of Pinctada margaritifera larval stages transitioning through gene expression dynamics, molecular mechanisms and ontogeny of biomineralization, immune system, and sensory perception processes.


biomineralization, environmental sensing, immune system, larval development, Pinctada margaritifera, RNA-seq

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Figure S 1: Venn diagram of differentially expressed genes across larval stages of P. margaritifera. D-shape vs. Veliger (D-V), Veliger vs. Umbo (V-U) and Umbo vs. Eye-stage (U-E).
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Table S 1: Mapping statistics and DEGs.
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Table S2: GO enrichment analyses.
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How to cite
Destanque Thibault, Le Luyer Jeremy, Quillien Virgile, Sham Koua Manaarii, Auffret Pauline, Ky Chin-Long (2024). Substantial gene expression shifts during larval transitions in the pearl oyster Pinctada margaritifera. Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution. 342 (2). 76-84.,

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