Hyalella azteca is a cryptic species complex of epibenthic amphipods of interest to ecotoxicology and evolutionary biology. It is the primary crustacean used in North America for sediment toxicity testing and an emerging model for molecular ecotoxicology. To provide molecular resources for sediment quality assessments and evolutionary studies, we sequenced, assembled, and annotated the genome of the H. azteca U.S. Lab Strain. The genome quality and completeness is comparable with other ecotoxicological model species. Through targeted investigation and use of gene expression data sets of H. azteca exposed to pesticides, metals, and other emerging contaminants, we annotated and characterized the major gene families involved in sequestration, detoxification, oxidative stress, and toxicant response. Our results revealed gene loss related to light sensing, but a large expansion in chemoreceptors, likely underlying sensory shifts necessary in their low light habitats. Gene family expansions were also noted for cytochrome P450 genes, cuticle proteins, ion transporters, and include recent gene duplications in the metal sequestration protein, metallothionein. Mapping of differentially expressed transcripts to the genome significantly increased the ability to functionally annotate toxicant responsive genes. The H. azteca genome will greatly facilitate development of genomic tools for environmental assessments and promote an understanding of how evolution shapes toxicological pathways with implications for environmental and human health.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry