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Transcriptomic analysis revealed the dynamic response mechanism to acute ammonia exposure in the ivory shell, Babylonia areolata

et al. Xin Hong

Fish and Shellfish Immunology


The ivory shell (Babylonia areolata) is an economically important shellfish in tropical and subtropical regions, but its intensive culture and biological characteristic of hiding in the sandy substrate make it highly susceptible to ammonia stress.

In this study, we investigated the dynamic changes in histopathology, oxidative stress, and transcriptome of the ivory shell at different time points under high concentration (60 mg/L) ammonia exposure. With prolonged exposure to stress, vacuoles appeared in the hepatopancreas while cell volume and intercellular space increased.

The activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) decreased significantly under high concentrations of ammonia-induced stress while malondialdehyde (MDA) levels increased significantly. Integrated analysis of differentially expressed genes (DEGs), weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA), and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) revealed that lipid transport primarily contributed to maintaining cellular homeostasis during the early stage of stress (6 and 12 h).

Subsequently, a significant upregulation of oxidation-reduction reactions occurred at the middle stage (24 h), leading to oxidative stress. Finally, during the later stage (48 h), metabolic decomposition provided energy for survival maintenance. Additionally, lysosome and apoptosis were identified as potential key pathways in response to acute ammonia toxicity.

Overall, our findings suggest that ivory shells can respond to acute ammonia toxicity via immune and antioxidant defense mechanisms but sustained high concentrations may cause irreversible damage. This study provides valuable insights into the response mechanism of mollusks towards ammonia and serves as a data reference for breeding ammonia-tolerant varieties of ivory shells.


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