Molecular signatures of the rediae, cercariae and adult stages in the complex life cycles of parasitic flatworms (Digenea Psilostomatidae)

Maksim A. Nesterenko, Viktor V. Starunov, Сергей Владимирович Щенков, Anna R. Maslova, Sofia A. Denisova, Андрей Игоревич Гранович, Andrey A. Dobrovolskij, Konstantin V. Khalturin

Research outputpeer-review


Background: Parasitic flatworms (Trematoda: Digenea) represent one of the most remarkable examples of drastic morphological diversity among the stages within a life cycle. Which genes are responsible for extreme differences in anatomy, physiology, behavior, and ecology among the stages? Here we report a comparative transcriptomic analysis of parthenogenetic and amphimictic generations in two evolutionary informative species of Digenea belonging to the family Psilostomatidae. Methods: In this study the transcriptomes of rediae, cercariae and adult worm stages of Psilotrema simillimum and Sphaeridiotrema pseudoglobulus, were sequenced and analyzed. High-quality transcriptomes were generated, and the reference sets of protein-coding genes were used for differential expression analysis in order to identify stage-specific genes. Comparative analysis of gene sets, their expression dynamics and Gene Ontology enrichment analysis were performed for three life stages within each species and between the two species. Results: Reference transcriptomes for P. simillimum and S. pseudoglobulus include 21,433 and 46,424 sequences, respectively. Among 14,051 orthologous groups (OGs), 1354 are common and specific for two analyzed psilostomatid species, whereas 13 and 43 OGs were unique for P. simillimum and S. pseudoglobulus, respectively. In contrast to P. simillimum, where more than 60% of analyzed genes were active in the redia, cercaria and adult worm stages, in S. pseudoglobulus less than 40% of genes had such a ubiquitous expression pattern. In general, 7805 (36.41%) and 30,622 (65.96%) of genes were preferentially expressed in one of the analyzed stages of P. simillimum and S. pseudoglobulus, respectively. In both species 12 clusters of co-expressed genes were identified, and more than a half of the genes belonging to the reference sets were included into these clusters. Functional specialization of the life cycle stages was clearly supported by Gene Ontology enrichment analysis. Conclusions: During the life cycles of the two species studied, most of the genes change their expression levels considerably, consequently the molecular signature of a stage is not only a unique set of expressed genes, but also the specific levels of their expression. Our results indicate unexpectedly high level of plasticity in gene regulation between closely related species. Transcriptomes of P. simillimum and S. pseudoglobulus provide high quality reference resource for future evolutionary studies and comparative analyses.[Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Translated title of the contributionМолекулярные подписи редий, церкарий и марит в сложных жизненных циклах паразитических плоских червей (Digenea: Psilostomatidae).
Original languageEnglish
Article number559
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2020

Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases

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