Transcriptomic responses to heat stress in invasive and native blue mussels (genus Mytilus): molecular correlates of invasive success

J Exp Biol. 2010 Oct 15;213(Pt 20):3548-58. doi: 10.1242/jeb.046094.


Invasive species are increasingly prevalent in marine ecosystems worldwide. Although many studies have examined the ecological effects of invasives, little is known about the physiological mechanisms that might contribute to invasive success. The mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis, a native of the Mediterranean Sea, is a successful invader on the central and southern coasts of California, where it has largely displaced the native congener, Mytilus trossulus. It has been previously shown that thermal responses of several physiological traits may underlie the capacity of M. galloprovincialis to out-compete M. trossulus in warm habitats. To elucidate possible differences in stress-induced gene expression between these congeners, we developed an oligonucleotide microarray with 8874 probes representing 4488 different genes that recognized mRNAs of both species. In acute heat-stress experiments, 1531 of these genes showed temperature-dependent changes in expression that were highly similar in the two congeners. By contrast, 96 genes showed species-specific responses to heat stress, functionally characterized by their involvement in oxidative stress, proteolysis, energy metabolism, ion transport, cell signaling and cytoskeletal reorganization. The gene that showed the biggest difference between the species was the gene for the molecular chaperone small heat shock protein 24, which was highly induced in M. galloprovincialis and showed only a small change in M. trossulus. These different responses to acute heat stress may help to explain--and predict--the invasive success of M. galloprovincialis in a warming world.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • Heat-Shock Response / genetics*
  • Introduced Species*
  • Multigene Family / genetics
  • Mytilus edulis / genetics*
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Species Specificity
  • Unionidae / genetics*


  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins