Transcriptomic seasonal variations in a natural population of zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha).
The zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha is a Caspian Sea bivalve that colonized freshwater bodies worldwide during the XX century. To analyze the impact of seasonal and environmental variations on the physiology and metabolism of this invasive species, we developed a custom microarray using 4057 publicly available DNA sequences from Dreissena and other related genera. Transcriptome profiles were analyzed using half-body samples from a relatively clean site (Riba-Roja, low Ebro River, N.E. Spain), at three different stages of the annual cycle: Pre-spawning (February), spawning (June), and gonad resorption (September). Transcripts from a total of 745 unique sequences showed significant changes among these three groups of samples. Functional characterization of these transcripts based on their closest known homologues showed that genes involved in stress defense (oxidative and infection) were overrepresented in September, whereas genes related to reproductive functions were overrepresented in the spawning and pre-spawning periods. This transcriptomic information can help to identify developmental stages at which the organism is more vulnerable for future control strategies. These data will also contribute to the implementation of gene expression-based assays for pollution monitoring in water bodies harboring stable zebra mussel populations.