The state of metabolic dormancy has fascinated people for hundreds of years, leading to research exploring the identity of natural molecular components that may induce and maintain this state. Many animals lower their metabolism in response to high temperatures and/or arid conditions, a phenomenon called aestivation. The biological significance for this is clear; by strongly suppressing metabolic rate to low levels, animals minimise their exposure to stressful conditions. Understanding blood or hemolymph metabolite changes that occur between active and aestivated animals can provide valuable insights relating to those molecular components that regulate hypometabolism in animals, and how they afford adaptation to their different environmental conditions. In this study, we have investigated the hemolymph metabolite composition from the land snail Theba pisana, a remarkably resilient mollusc that displays an annual aestivation period. Using LC-MS-based metabolomics analysis, we have identified those hemolymph metabolites that show significant changes in relative abundance between active and aestivated states. We show that certain metabolites, including some phospholipids [e.g. LysoPC(14:0)], and amino acids such as L-arginine and L-tyrosine, are present at high levels within aestivated snails. Further investigation of our T. pisana RNA-sequencing data elucidated the entire repertoire of phospholipid-synthesis genes in the snail digestive gland, as a precursor towards future comparative investigation between the genetic components of aestivating and non-aestivating species. In summary, we have identified a large number of metabolites that are elevated in the hemolymph of aestivating snails, supporting their role in protecting against heat or desiccation.
Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part D: Genomics and Proteomics / Vol. 19, pp.25-33