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Funct Ecol. 2012 Feb 1;26(1):144-155. Epub 2011 Oct 13.

Transcriptome profiles link environmental variation and physiological response of Mytilus californianus between Pacific tides.

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Department of Biological Sciences & Environment and Sustainability Program, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208 USA.


The marine intertidal zone is characterized by large variation in temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen and the supply of nutrients and food on seasonal and daily time scales. These oceanic fluctuations drive of ecological processes such as recruitment, competition and consumer-prey interactions largely via physiological mehcanisms. Thus, to understand coastal ecosystem dynamics and responses to climate change, it is crucial to understand these mechanisms.Here we utilize transcriptome analysis of the physiological response of the mussel Mytilus californianus at different spatial scales to gain insight into these mechanisms. We used mussels inhabiting different vertical locations within Strawberry Hill on Cape Perpetua, OR and Boiler Bay on Cape Foulweather, OR to study inter- and intra-site variation of gene expression.The results highlight two distinct gene expression signatures related to the cycling of metabolic activity and perturbations to cellular homeostasis. Intermediate spatial scales show a strong influence of oceanographic differences in food and stress environments between sites separated by ~65 km.Together, these new insights into environmental control of gene expression may allow understanding of important physiological drivers within and across populations.

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