Characterisation of Reproduction-Associated Genes and Peptides in the Pest Land Snail, Theba pisana

PLoS One. 2016 Oct 5;11(10):e0162355. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0162355. eCollection 2016.


Increased understanding of the molecular components involved in reproduction may assist in understanding the evolutionary adaptations used by animals, including hermaphrodites, to produce offspring and retain a continuation of their lineage. In this study, we focus on the Mediterranean snail, Theba pisana, a hermaphroditic land snail that has become a highly invasive pest species within agricultural areas throughout the world. Our analysis of T. pisana CNS tissue has revealed gene transcripts encoding molluscan reproduction-associated proteins including APGWamide, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and an egg-laying hormone (ELH). ELH isoform 1 (ELH1) is known to be a potent reproductive peptide hormone involved in ovulation and egg-laying in some aquatic molluscs. Two other non-CNS ELH isoforms were also present in T. pisana (Tpi-ELH2 and Tpi-ELH3) within the snail dart sac and mucous glands. Bioactivity of a synthetic ELH1 on sexually mature T. pisana was confirmed through bioassay, with snails showing ELH1-induced egg-laying behaviours, including soil burrowing and oviposition. In summary, this study presents a detailed molecular analysis of reproductive neuropeptide genes in a land snail and provides a foundation for understanding ELH function.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / analysis
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / genetics
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Invertebrate Hormones / analysis
  • Invertebrate Hormones / genetics
  • Invertebrate Hormones / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oviposition / genetics*
  • Peptides / analysis
  • Peptides / genetics
  • Peptides / metabolism*
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • RNA / chemistry
  • RNA / isolation & purification
  • RNA / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Snails / genetics
  • Snails / metabolism*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Invertebrate Hormones
  • Peptides
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • RNA

Grants and funding

Funded by Australian Research Council: DP120104360.