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Molecular adaptations to heat stress in the thermophilic ant genus Cataglyphis
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  • Rémy Perez,
  • Natalia de Souza Araujo,
  • Matthieu De France,
  • Serge Aron
Rémy Perez
Université Libre de Bruxelles
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Natalia de Souza Araujo
Université Libre de Bruxelles
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Matthieu De France
Université Libre de Bruxelles
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Serge Aron
Université Libre de Bruxelles
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Abstract

Over the last decade, increasing attention has been paid to the molecular adaptations used by organisms to cope with thermal stress. However, to date, few studies have focused on thermophilic species living in hot, arid climates. In this study, we explored molecular adaptations to heat stress in the thermophilic ant genus Cataglyphis, one of the world’s most thermotolerant animal taxa. We compared heat tolerance and gene expression patterns across six phylogenetically distant species that live in different habitats and experience different thermal regimes. We found that all six species had similar heat tolerance levels and critical thermal maxima. Furthermore, the transcriptome analyses revealed that, although the number of differentially expressed genes varied widely for the 6 species (from 54 to 1,118), many were also shared. Functional annotation of the differentially expressed and co-expressed genes then showed that the biological pathways involved in heat-shock responses were similar among species and were associated with four major processes: the regulation of transcriptional machinery and DNA metabolism; the preservation of proteome stability; the elimination of toxic residues; and the maintenance of cellular integrity. Overall, our results suggest that molecular responses to heat stress have been evolutionarily conserved in the ant genus Cataglyphis and that their versatility may help workers withstand temperatures close to their physiological limits.

Peer review status:UNDER REVIEW

06 Mar 2021Submitted to Molecular Ecology
08 Mar 2021Submission Checks Completed
08 Mar 2021Assigned to Editor
10 Mar 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
11 May 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
14 May 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
07 Jun 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
07 Jun 20211st Revision Received
07 Jun 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned