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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Factorial microarray analysis of zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha: Dreissenidae, Bivalvia) adhesion

Wei Xu1 and Mohamed Faisal12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathobiology & Diagnostic Investigation, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA

2 Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA

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BMC Genomics 2010, 11:341  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-341

Published: 28 May 2010



The zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) has been well known for its expertise in attaching to substances under the water. Studies in past decades on this underwater adhesion focused on the adhesive protein isolated from the byssogenesis apparatus of the zebra mussel. However, the mechanism of the initiation, maintenance, and determination of the attachment process remains largely unknown.


In this study, we used a zebra mussel cDNA microarray previously developed in our lab and a factorial analysis to identify the genes that were involved in response to the changes of four factors: temperature (Factor A), current velocity (Factor B), dissolved oxygen (Factor C), and byssogenesis status (Factor D). Twenty probes in the microarray were found to be modified by one of the factors. The transcription products of four selected genes, DPFP-BG20_A01, EGP-BG97/192_B06, EGP-BG13_G05, and NH-BG17_C09 were unique to the zebra mussel foot based on the results of quantitative reverse transcription PCR (qRT-PCR). The expression profiles of these four genes under the attachment and non-attachment were also confirmed by qRT-PCR and the result is accordant to that from microarray assay. The in situ hybridization with the RNA probes of two identified genes DPFP-BG20_A01 and EGP-BG97/192_B06 indicated that both of them were expressed by a type of exocrine gland cell located in the middle part of the zebra mussel foot.


The results of this study suggested that the changes of D. polymorpha byssogenesis status and the environmental factors can dramatically affect the expression profiles of the genes unique to the foot. It turns out that the factorial design and analysis of the microarray experiment is a reliable method to identify the influence of multiple factors on the expression profiles of the probesets in the microarray; therein it provides a powerful tool to reveal the mechanism of zebra mussel underwater attachment.