Abstract / Description of output
Bivalve molluscs comprise 20,000 species occupying a wide diversity of marine habitats. As filter feeders and detritivores they act as ecosystem engineers clarifying water, creating reefs and protecting coastlines. The global decline of natural oyster reefs has led to increased restoration efforts in recent years. Bivalves also play an important role in global food security contributing to >20% of worldwide aquaculture production. Despite this importance, relatively little is known about bivalve evolutionary adaptation strategies. Difficulties previously associated with highly heterozygous and repetitive regions of bivalve genomes have been overcome by long read sequencing, enabling the generation of accurate bivalve assemblies. With these resources we have analysed the genomes of 32 species representing each molluscan class, including 15 bivalve species, to identify gene families that have undergone expansion during bivalve evolution. Gene family expansions across bivalve genomes occur at the point of evolutionary pressures. We uncovered two key factors that shape bivalve evolutionary history: expansion of bivalvia into environmental niches with high stress followed by later exposure to specific pathogenic pressures. The conserved expansion of protein recycling gene families we found across bivalvia is mirrored by adaptations to a sedentary lifestyle seen in plants. These results reflect the ability of bivalves to tolerate high levels of environmental stress and constant exposure to pathogens as filter feeders. The increasing availability of accurate genome assemblies will provide greater resolution to these analyses allowing further points of evolutionary pressure to become clear in other understudied taxa and potentially different populations of a single species.