Main content area

Early transcriptional response pathways in Daphnia magna are coordinated in networks of crustacean‐specific genes

Orsini, Luisa, Brown, James B., Shams Solari, Omid, Li, Dong, He, Shan, Podicheti, Ram, Stoiber, Marcus H., Spanier, Katina I., Gilbert, Donald, Jansen, Mieke, Rusch, Douglas B., Pfrender, Michael E., Colbourne, John K., Frilander, Mikko J., Kvist, Jouni, Decaestecker, Ellen, De Schamphelaere, Karel A. C., De Meester, Luc
Molecular ecology 2018 v.27 no.4 pp. 886-897
Daphnia magna, abiotic stress, cell communication, environmental impact, gene expression regulation, genes, genetic background, genotype-environment interaction, habitats, keystone species, metabolism, stress response, transcription (genetics)
Natural habitats are exposed to an increasing number of environmental stressors that cause important ecological consequences. However, the multifarious nature of environmental change, the strength and the relative timing of each stressor largely limit our understanding of biological responses to environmental change. In particular, early response to unpredictable environmental change, critical to survival and fitness in later life stages, is largely uncharacterized. Here, we characterize the early transcriptional response of the keystone species Daphnia magna to twelve environmental perturbations, including biotic and abiotic stressors. We first perform a differential expression analysis aimed at identifying differential regulation of individual genes in response to stress. This preliminary analysis revealed that a few individual genes were responsive to environmental perturbations and they were modulated in a stressor and genotype‐specific manner. Given the limited number of differentially regulated genes, we were unable to identify pathways involved in stress response. Hence, to gain a better understanding of the genetic and functional foundation of tolerance to multiple environmental stressors, we leveraged the correlative nature of networks and performed a weighted gene co‐expression network analysis. We discovered that approximately one‐third of the Daphnia genes, enriched for metabolism, cell signalling and general stress response, drives transcriptional early response to environmental stress and it is shared among genetic backgrounds. This initial response is followed by a genotype‐ and/or condition‐specific transcriptional response with a strong genotype‐by‐environment interaction. Intriguingly, genotype‐ and condition‐specific transcriptional response is found in genes not conserved beyond crustaceans, suggesting niche‐specific adaptation.