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Biological Research

Print version ISSN 0716-9760


THUNDERS, Michelle; CAVANAGH, Jo  and  LI, Yinsheng. De novo transcriptome assembly, functional annotation and differential gene expression analysis of juvenile and adult E. fetida, a model oligochaete used in ecotoxicological studies. Biol. Res. [online]. 2017, vol.50, 7. ISSN 0716-9760.


Earthworms are sensitive to toxic chemicals present in the soil and so are useful indicator organisms for soil health. Eisenia fetida are commonly used in ecotoxicological studies; therefore the assembly of a baseline transcriptome is important for subsequent analyses exploring the impact of toxin exposure on genome wide gene expression.


This paper reports on the de novo transcriptome assembly of E. fetida using Trinity, a freely available software tool. Trinotate was used to carry out functional annotation of the Trinity generated transcriptome file and the transdecoder generated peptide sequence file along with BLASTX, BLASTP and HMMER searches and were loaded into a Sqlite3 database. To identify differentially expressed transcripts; each of the original sequence files were aligned to the de novo assembled transcriptome using Bowtie and then RSEM was used to estimate expression values based on the alignment. EdgeR was used to calculate differential expression between the two conditions, with an FDR corrected P value cut off of 0.001, this returned six significantly differentially expressed genes. Initial BLASTX hits of these putative genes included hits with annelid ferritin and lysozyme proteins, as well as fungal NADH cytochrome b5 reductase and senescence associated proteins. At a cut off of P = 0.01 there were a further 26 differentially expressed genes.


These data have been made publicly available, and to our knowledge represent the most comprehensive available transcriptome for E. fetida assembled from RNA sequencing data. This provides important groundwork for subsequent ecotoxicogenomic studies exploring the impact of the environment on global gene expression in E. fetida and other earthworm species.

Keywords : Earthworm; Trinity; Transcriptome; E. fetida; Ecotoxicology; RNA; Sequence; Gene expression.

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