The oyster genome reveals stress adaptation and complexity of shell formation

Nature. 2012 Oct 4;490(7418):49-54. doi: 10.1038/nature11413. Epub 2012 Sep 19.


The Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas belongs to one of the most species-rich but genomically poorly explored phyla, the Mollusca. Here we report the sequencing and assembly of the oyster genome using short reads and a fosmid-pooling strategy, along with transcriptomes of development and stress response and the proteome of the shell. The oyster genome is highly polymorphic and rich in repetitive sequences, with some transposable elements still actively shaping variation. Transcriptome studies reveal an extensive set of genes responding to environmental stress. The expansion of genes coding for heat shock protein 70 and inhibitors of apoptosis is probably central to the oyster's adaptation to sessile life in the highly stressful intertidal zone. Our analyses also show that shell formation in molluscs is more complex than currently understood and involves extensive participation of cells and their exosomes. The oyster genome sequence fills a void in our understanding of the Lophotrochozoa.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / genetics*
  • Animal Shells / chemistry
  • Animal Shells / growth & development*
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / genetics
  • Crassostrea / genetics*
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics
  • Genes, Homeobox / genetics
  • Genome / genetics*
  • Genomics
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics
  • Humans
  • Larva / genetics
  • Larva / growth & development
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Molecular Sequence Annotation
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Stress, Physiological / genetics
  • Stress, Physiological / physiology*
  • Transcriptome / genetics


  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AFTI00000000
  • GEO/GSE31012