Copper promoting oyster larval growth and settlement : Molecular insights from RNA-seq

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number147159
Journal / PublicationScience of the Total Environment
Online published17 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2021


As a cofactor of key enzymes, Cu is required in living organisms, although Cu levels in the natural environment are typically low. In this study, the promotion of growth and settlement on the larvae of oyster Crassostrea angulata was observed at an environmentally relevant concentration (10 μg/L Cu). Interestingly, Cu accumulation in the soft tissue of oyster larvae increased during the larval development and exhibited a sharp increase at the late pelagic stage. With the help of RNA-seq, we constructed a high-quality transcriptional database of the oyster C. angulata larvae (24,257 genes with an average length of 1594 bp) via de novo assembly, which provided the basic molecular changes during the larval development. Network analysis of five early developmental stages and differential expression under Cu exposure were integrated to examine the roles of Cu in oyster larvae. Our molecular analysis demonstrated that both ion channels and organic transporters contributed to Cu internalization from the external environment, including zinc transporters and amino acid transporters. The followed distribution of Cu across cells was achieved by ATP7A, the circulatory system, and the Cu transporters (CTRs). Cu exposure enhanced the ribosome and the calcium binding proteins with a higher rate of translation and shell formation, giving rise to faster growth of oyster larvae. Furthermore, Cu facilitated the settling process by upregulating the chitin binding genes and then promoting the formation of the proteinaceous matrix between larvae and substrate. Our study presents the molecular basis for Cu promotion (i.e., hormesis) effects on oyster larval growth and settlement.

Research Area(s)

  • Copper, Growth, Oysters, RNA-seq, Settlement