• Deciphering mollusc shell production: the roles of genetic mechanisms through to ecology, aquaculture and biomimetics

      Carlone, Bob (Wiley, 2020-08)
      Most molluscs possess shells, constructed from a vast array of microstructures and architectures. The fully formed shell is composed of calcite or aragonite. These CaCO3 crystals form complex biocomposites with proteins, which although typ- ically less than 5% of total shell mass, play significant roles in determining shell microstructure. Despite much research effort, large knowledge gaps remain in how molluscs construct and maintain their shells, and how they produce such a great diversity of forms. Here we synthesize results on how shell shape, microstructure, composition and organic content vary among, and within, species in response to numerous biotic and abiotic factors. At the local level, temperature, food supply and predation cues significantly affect shell morphology, whilst salinity has a much stronger influence across lat- itudes. Moreover, we emphasize how advances in genomic technologies [e.g. restriction site-associated DNA sequencing (RAD-Seq) and epigenetics] allow detailed examinations of whether morphological changes result from phenotypic plas- ticity or genetic adaptation, or a combination of these. RAD-Seq has already identified single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with temperature and aquaculture practices, whilst epigenetic processes have been shown significantly to mod- ify shell construction to local conditions in, for example, Antarctica and New Zealand. We also synthesize results on the costs of shell construction and explore how these affect energetic trade-offs in animal metabolism. The cellular costs are still debated, with CaCO3 precipitation estimates ranging from 1–2 J/mg to 17–55 J/mg depending on experimental and environmental conditions. However, organic components are more expensive ($29 J/mg) and recent data indicate transmembrane calcium ion transporters can involve considerable costs. This review emphasizes the role that molecular analyses have played in demonstrating multiple evolutionary origins of biomineralization genes. Although these are char- acterized by lineage-specific proteins and unique combinations of co-opted genes, a small set of protein domains have been identified as a conserved biomineralization tool box. We further highlight the use of sequence data sets in providing candidate genes for in situ localization and protein function studies. The former has elucidated gene expression modular- ity in mantle tissue, improving understanding of the diversity of shell morphology synthesis. RNA interference (RNAi) and clustered regularly interspersed short palindromic repeats - CRISPR-associated protein 9 (CRISPR-Cas9) experi- ments have provided proof of concept for use in the functional investigation of mollusc gene sequences, showing for example that Pif (aragonite-binding) protein plays a significant role in structured nacre crystal growth and that the Lsdia1 gene sets shell chirality in Lymnaea stagnalis. Much research has focused on the impacts of ocean acidification on molluscs. Initial studies were predominantly pessimistic for future molluscan biodiversity. However, more sophisticated experi- ments incorporating selective breeding and multiple generations are identifying subtle effects and that variability within mollusc genomes has potential for adaption to future conditions. Furthermore, we highlight recent historical studies based on museum collections that demonstrate a greater resilience of molluscs to climate change compared with exper- imental data. The future of mollusc research lies not solely with ecological investigations into biodiversity, and this review synthesizes knowledge across disciplines to understand biomineralization. It spans research ranging from evolution and development, through predictions of biodiversity prospects and future-proofing of aquaculture to identifying new biomi- metic opportunities and societal benefits from recycling shell products.
    • The Endocannabinoid System and Invertebrate Neurodevelopment and Regeneration

      Carlone, Bob (MDPI, 2021-02-20)
      Cannabis has long been used for its medicinal and psychoactive properties. With the rela- tively new adoption of formal medicinal cannabis regulations worldwide, the study of cannabinoids, both endogenous and exogenous, has similarly flourished in more recent decades. In particular, research investigating the role of cannabinoids in regeneration and neurodevelopment has yielded promising results in vertebrate models. However, regeneration-competent vertebrates are few, whereas a myriad of invertebrate species have been established as superb models for regeneration. As such, this review aims to provide a comprehensive summary of the endocannabinoid system, with a focus on current advances in the area of endocannabinoid system contributions to invertebrate neurodevelopment and regeneration.