Genetic Basis of Differential Heat Resistance between Two Species of Congeneric Freshwater Snails: Insights from Quantitative Proteomics and Base Substitution Rate Analysis

We compared the heat tolerance, proteomic responses to heat stress, and adaptive sequence divergence in the invasive snail <i>Pomacea canaliculata</i> and its noninvasive congener <i>Pomacea diffusa</i>. The <i>LT</i><sub>50</sub> of <i>P. canaliculata</i> was significantly higher than that of <i>P. diffusa</i>. More than 3350 proteins were identified from the hepatopancreas of the snails exposed to acute and chronic thermal stress using iTRAQ-coupled mass spectrometry. Acute exposure (3 h exposure at 37 °C with 25 °C as control) resulted in similar numbers (27 in <i>P. canaliculata</i> and 23 in <i>P. diffusa</i>) of differentially expressed proteins in the two species. Chronic exposure (3 weeks of exposure at 35 °C with 25 °C as control) caused differential expression of more proteins (58 in <i>P. canaliculata</i> and 118 in <i>P. diffusa</i>), with many of them related to restoration of damaged molecules, ubiquitinating dysfunctional molecules, and utilization of energy reserves in both species; but only in <i>P. diffusa</i> was there a shift from carbohydrate to lipid catabolism. Analysis of orthologous genes encoding the differentially expressed proteins revealed two genes having clear evidence of positive selection (Ka/Ks > 1) and seven candidates for more detailed analysis of positive selection (Ka/Ks between 0.5 and 1). These nine genes are related to energy metabolism, cellular oxidative homeostasis, signaling, and binding processes. Overall, the proteomic and base substitution rate analyses indicate genetic basis of differential resistance to heat stress between the two species, and such differences could affect their further range expansion in a warming climate.