Genomic Analysis of a Scale Worm Provides Insights into Its Adaptation to Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vents

Xing He, Hui Wang, Ting Xu, Yanjie Zhang, Chong Chen, Yanan Sun, Jian Wen Qiu, Yadong Zhou, Jin Sun*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Deep-sea polynoid scale worms endemic to hydrothermal vents have evolved an adaptive strategy to the chronically hypoxic environment, but its underlying molecular mechanisms remain elusive. Here, we assembled a chromosome-scale genome of the vent-endemic scale worm Branchipolynoe longqiensis (the first annotated genome in the subclass Errantia) and annotated two shallow-water polynoid genomes, aiming to elucidate the adaptive mechanisms. We present a genome-wide molecular phylogeny of Annelida which calls for extensive taxonomy revision by including more genomes from key lineages. The B. longqiensis genome with a genome size of 1.86 Gb and 18 pseudochromosomes is larger than the genomes of two shallow-water polynoids, possibly due to the expansion of various transposable elements (TEs) and transposons. We revealed two interchromosomal rearrangements in B. longqiensis when compared with the two shallow-water polynoid genomes. The intron elongation and interchromosomal rearrangement can influence a number of biological processes, such as vesicle transport, microtubules, and transcription factors. Furthermore, the expansion of cytoskeleton-related gene families may favor the cell structure maintenance of B. longqiensis in the deep ocean. The expansion of synaptic vesicle exocytosis genes has possibly contributed to the unique complex structure of the nerve system in B. longqiensis. Finally, we uncovered an expansion of single-domain hemoglobin and a unique formation of tetra-domain hemoglobin via tandem duplications, which may be related to the adaptation to a hypoxic environment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberevad125
JournalGenome Biology and Evolution
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Medicine(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • adaptation
  • comparative genomics
  • hydrothermal vent
  • phylogenomics
  • polynoid


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