Lipaeva, Polina; Kseniya Vereshchagina; Polina Drozdova; Lena Jakob; Elizaveta Kondrateva; Magnus Licassen; Daria Bedulina; Maxim Timofeyev; Peter Stadler and Till Luckenbach

Species of littoral freshwater environments in regions with continental climate experience pronounced seasonal temperature changes. Coping with long cold winters and hot summers requires specific physiological and behavioural adaptations. Endemic amphipods of Lake Baikal, Eulimnogammarus verrucosus and Eulimnogammarus cyaneus, show high metabolic activity throughout the year; E. verrucosus even reproduces in winter. In contrast, the widespread Holarctic amphipod Gammarus lacustris overwinters in torpor. This study investigated the transcriptomic hallmarks of E. verrucosus, E. cyaneus and G. lacustris exposed to low water temperatures. Amphipods were exposed to 1.5°C and 12°C (corresponding to the mean winter and summer water temperatures, respectively, in the Baikal littoral) for one month. At 1.5°C, G. lacustris showed upregulation of ribosome biogenesis and mRNA processing genes, as well as downregulation of genes related to growth, reproduction and locomotor activity, indicating enhanced energy allocation to somatic maintenance. Our results suggest that the mitogen‑activated protein kinase (MAPK) signalling pathway is involved in the preparation for hibernation; downregulation of the actin cytoskeleton pathway genes could relate to the observed low locomotor activity of G. lacustris at 1.5°C. The differences between the transcriptomes of E. verrucosus and E. cyaneus from the 1.5°C and 12°C exposures were considerably smaller than for G. lacustris. In E. verrucosus, cold-exposure triggered reproductive activity was indicated by upregulation of respective genes, whereas in E. cyaneus, genes related to mitochondria functioning were upregulated, indicating cold compensation in this species. Our data elucidate the molecular characteristics behind the different adaptations of amphipod species from the Lake Baikal area to winter conditions.