Developmental Transcriptomics of the Hawaiian Anchialine Shrimp Halocaridina rubra Holthuis, 1963 (Crustacea: Atyidae)

Integr Comp Biol. 2016 Dec;56(6):1170-1182. doi: 10.1093/icb/icw003. Epub 2016 Jul 8.


Many crustacean species progress through a series of metamorphoses during the developmental transition from embryo to adult. The molecular genetic basis of this transition, however, is not well characterized for a large number of crustaceans. Here, we employ multiple RNA-Seq methodologies to identify differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between "early" (i.e., Z1 - Z2) as well as "late" (i.e., Z3 - Z4) larval and adult developmental stages of Halocaridina rubra Holthuis (1963), an atyid shrimp endemic to the environmentally variable anchialine ecosystem of the Hawaiian Islands. Given the differences in salinity tolerance (narrow vs. wide range), energy acquisition (maternal yolk-bearing vs. microphagous grazing), and behavior (positively phototactic vs. not) between larvae and adults, respectively, of this species, we hypothesized the recovery of numerous DEGs belonging to functional categories relating to these characteristics. Consistent with this and regardless of methodology, hundreds of DEGs were identified, including upregulation of opsins and other light/stimulus detection genes and downregulation of genes related to ion transport, digestion, and reproduction in larvae relative to adults. Furthermore, isoform-switching, which has been largely unexplored in crustacean development, appears to be pervasive between H. rubra larvae and adults, especially among structural and oxygen-transport genes. Finally, by comparing RNA-Seq methodologies, we provide recommendations for future crustacean transcriptomic studies, including a demonstration of the pitfalls associated with identifying DEGs from single replicate samples as well as the utility of leveraging "prepackaged" bioinformatics pipelines.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Decapoda / genetics*
  • Decapoda / growth & development*
  • Ecosystem
  • Hawaii
  • Larva
  • Transcriptome*