The evolution of mollusc shells

Carmel McDougall, Bernard M Degnan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Molluscan shells are externally fabricated by specialized epithelial cells on the dorsal mantle. Although a conserved set of regulatory genes appears to underlie specification of mantle progenitor cells, the genes that contribute to the formation of the mature shell are incredibly diverse. Recent comparative analyses of mantle transcriptomes and shell proteomes of gastropods and bivalves are consistent with shell diversity being underpinned by a rapidly evolving mantle secretome (suite of genes expressed in the mantle that encode secreted proteins) that is the product of (a) high rates of gene co-option into and loss from the mantle gene regulatory network, and (b) the rapid evolution of coding sequences, particular those encoding repetitive low complexity domains. Outside a few conserved genes, such as carbonic anhydrase, a so-called "biomineralization toolkit" has yet to be discovered. Despite this, a common suite of protein domains, which are often associated with the extracellular matrix and immunity, appear to have been independently and often uniquely co-opted into the mantle secretomes of different species. The evolvability of the mantle secretome provides a molecular explanation for the evolution and diversity of molluscan shells. These genomic processes are likely to underlie the evolution of other animal biominerals, including coral and echinoderm skeletons. This article is categorized under: Comparative Development and Evolution > Regulation of Organ Diversity Comparative Development and Evolution > Evolutionary Novelties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e313
JournalWiley interdisciplinary reviews. Developmental biology
Volume7
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2018

Keywords

  • Animal Shells/growth & development
  • Animals
  • Calcium/metabolism
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Mollusca/anatomy & histology

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