Based on the genomic and transcriptomic analysis results, researchers uncovered an extensive set of genes that allow oysters to adapt and cope with environmental stresses, such as temperature variation and changes in salinity, air exposure and heavy metals. For example, the expansion of heat shock protein 70 (HSP 70) may help explain why Pacific oyster can tolerate high temperatures as HSP family is expanded and highly expressed when in high temperature. The expansion of inhibitors of apoptosis proteins (IAPs), along with other findings, suggested that a powerful anti-apoptosis system exists and may be critical for oyster's amazing endurance to air exposure and other stresses. One notable finding on development is that the oyster Hox gene cluster was broken, and there are unusual gene losses and expansions of the TALE and PRD classes. Hox genes are essential and play critical important role in body plan, the Hox clusters are found to be more conserved in many organisms.
Researchers found paralogs might have the function to change the gene expression for better coping with the stresses. This result suggested that expansion and selective retention of duplicated defense-related genes are probably important to oyster's adaptation. Moreover, many immune-related genes were highly expressed in the digestive gland of the oyster, which indicated its digestive system was an important first-line defense organ against pathogens for the filter-feeder.
The shell provides a strong protection against predation and desiccation in sessile marine animals such as oysters. At present, two models have been proposed for molluscan shell f
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