The transcriptome of a "sleeping" invader: de novo assembly and annotation of the transcriptome of aestivating Cornu aspersum

BMC Genomics. 2017 Jun 28;18(1):491. doi: 10.1186/s12864-017-3885-1.


Background: Cornu aspersum is a quite intriguing species from the point of view of ecology and evolution and its potential use in medical and environmental applications. It is a species of economic importance since it is farmed and used for culinary purposes. However, the genomic tools that would allow a thorough insight into the ecology, evolution, nutritional and medical properties of this highly adaptable organism, are missing. In this work, using next-generation sequencing (NGS) techniques we assessed a significant portion of the transcriptome of this non-model organism.

Results: Out of the 9445 de novo assembled contigs, 2886 (30.6%) returned significant hits and for 2261 (24%) of them Gene Ontology (GO) terms associated to the hits were retrieved. A high percentage of the contigs (69.4%) produced no BLASTx hits. The GO terms were grouped to reflect biological processes, molecular functions and cellular components. Certain GO terms were dominant in all groups. After scanning the assembled transcriptome for microsatellites (simple sequence repeats, SSRs), a total of 563 SSRs were recovered. Among the identified SSRs, trinucleotide repeats were the predominant followed by tetranucleotide and dinucleotide repeats.

Conclusion: The annotation success of the transcriptome of C. aspersum was relatively low. This is probably due to the very limited number of annotated reference genomes existing for mollusc species, especially terrestrial ones. Several biological processes being active in the aestivating species were revealed through the association of the transcripts to enzymes relating to the pathways. The genomic tools provided herein will eventually aid in the study of the global genomic diversity of the species and the investigation of aspects of the ecology, evolution, behavior, nutritional and medical properties of this highly adaptable organism.

Keywords: Land-snail; Next-generation sequencing (NGS); Non-model organism; RNA-seq.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Gene Ontology
  • Helix, Snails / genetics*
  • Microsatellite Repeats / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Annotation*