Key Laboratory of Experimental Marine Biology, Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao, China; Laboratory for Marine Fisheries and Aquaculture, Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, Qingdao, Shandong, China; National & Local Joint Engineering Laboratory of Ecological Mariculture, Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao, China. Electronic address: [Email]
Oysters accumulate high concentrations of zinc (Zn) and copper (Cu), which can be transferred to human due to sea food consumption. Breeding new oyster varieties with low Zn and Cu accumulations is one important way to improve food safety. However, the genetic basis for metal accumulation in mollusks is not well understood. To address this issue, oysters collected in the field were used for genome-wide association study (GWAS) and then the identified genes were used for mRNA expressions analysis in laboratory. First, GWAS were conducted for Zn and Cu accumulation in 288 wild Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) farmed in the same ocean environment. The oysters did not show obvious population structure or kinship but exhibited 8.43- and 10.0- fold changes of Zn and Cu contents respectively. GWAS have identified 11 and 12 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with Zn and Cu, respectively, as well as 16 genes, which were Zn-containing proteins or participated in caveolae-dependent endocytosis. Second, the mRNA expressions of these 16 genes were observed under Zn and Cu exposure. After 9 days of Zn exposure, Zn contents increased 3.1-fold, while the mRNA expression of cell number regulator 3 increased 1.65-fold. Under 9 days of Cu exposure, Cu contents increased 1.97-fold, while the mRNA expression of caveolin-1 decreased 0.61-fold. These provide the evidence for their roles in regulating physiological levels of these two metals. The findings advance our understanding of the genetic basis of Zn and Cu accumulation in mollusks, which can be useful for breeding new, less toxic varieties of oysters.