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PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e55322. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055322. Epub 2013 Jan 25.

Post-embryonic transcriptomes of the prawn Macrobrachium rosenbergii: multigenic succession through metamorphosis.

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Department of Life Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel.


Like many metazoans, the freshwater prawn Macrobrachium rosenbergii begins its post-embryonic life with a set of morphologically distinct planktonic larval stages, followed by a benthic post-larval stage during which the maturing organism differs from the larvae both ecologically and physiologically. Understanding of the molecular basis underlying morphogenesis in crustaceans is limited to the observation that methyl farnesoate, the non-epoxidated form of the insect juvenile hormone, acts as the active crustacean juvenoid. Molt steroids were also linked to morphogenesis and several other molecular pathways, such as Hedgehog and Wnt, are known to underlie morphogenesis in all metazoans examined and, as such, are thought to do the same in crustaceans. Using next generation sequencing, we deep-sequenced the transcriptomes of several larval and post-larval stages. De novo assembly, followed by bioinformatics analysis, revealed that many novel transcripts are over-expressed in either larvae- or post-larvae-stage prawn, shedding light on the molecular basis underlying M. rosenbergii metamorphosis. Fast larval molting rates and periodic morphological changes were reflected in over-expression of transcripts annotated to the cell cycle, DNA replication and morphogenic pathways (i.e., Hedgehog and Wnt). Further characterization of transcripts assigned to morphogenic pathways by real-time RT-PCR reconfirmed their over-expression in larvae, albeit with a more complex expression pattern when examined in the individual developmental stages. The expression level of an orthologue of cytochrome P450, 15A1, known to epoxidize methyl farnesoate in insects, was increased in the late larval and early post-larval stages, in accordance with the role of methyl farnesoate in crustacean metamorphosis. This study exemplifies the applicability of a high-throughput sequencing approach for studying complex traits, including metamorphosis, providing new insight into this unexplored area of crustacean research.

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