Non-collinear Hox gene expression in bivalves and the evolution of morphological novelties in mollusks

Salamanca-Díaz, David A., Calcino, Andrew D., de Oliveira, André L., and Wanninger, Andreas (2021) Non-collinear Hox gene expression in bivalves and the evolution of morphological novelties in mollusks. Scientific Reports, 11. 3575.

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Hox genes are key developmental regulators that are involved in establishing morphological features during animal ontogeny. They are commonly expressed along the anterior--posterior axis in a staggered, or collinear, fashion. In mollusks, the repertoire of body plans is widely diverse and current data suggest their involvement during development of landmark morphological traits in Conchifera, one of the two major lineages that comprises those taxa that originated from a uni-shelled ancestor (Monoplacophora, Gastropoda, Cephalopoda, Scaphopoda, Bivalvia). For most clades, and bivalves in particular, data on Hox gene expression throughout ontogeny are scarce. We thus investigated Hox expression during development of the quagga mussel, Dreissena rostriformis, to elucidate to which degree they might contribute to specific phenotypic traits as in other conchiferans. The Hox/ParaHox complement of Mollusca typically comprises 14 genes, 13 of which are present in bivalve genomes including Dreissena. We describe here expression of 9 Hox genes and the ParaHox gene Xlox during Dreissena development. Hox expression in Dreissena is first detected in the gastrula stage with widely overlapping expression domains of most genes. In the trochophore stage, Hox gene expression shifts towards more compact, largely mesodermal domains. Only few of these domains can be assigned to specific developing morphological structures such as Hox1 in the shell field and Xlox in the hindgut. We did not find traces of spatial or temporal staggered expression of Hox genes in Dreissena. Our data support the notion that Hox gene expression has been coopted independently, and to varying degrees, into lineage-specific structures in the respective conchiferan clades. The non-collinear mode of Hox expression in Dreissena might be a result of the low degree of body plan regionalization along the bivalve anterior--posterior axis as exemplified by the lack of key morphological traits such as a distinct head, cephalic tentacles, radula apparatus, and a simplified central nervous system.

Item ID: 80436
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2045-2322
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2021. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2023 03:17
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3104 Evolutionary biology > 310404 Evolution of developmental systems @ 100%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280102 Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences @ 100%
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