Growth, energy metabolism and transcriptomic responses in Chinese mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis) to benzo[α]pyrene (BaP) toxicity

Na Yu, Qingqing Ding, Erchao Li, Jian G. Qin, Liqiao Chen, Xiaodan Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) is a highly toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon and has strong affinity to suspended materials and sediments in the aquatic environment. Most crustaceans are benthic species and are easily affected by the pollution in the sediments, but there is little information on the response mechanism of crustaceans to BaP exposure. This study compared the growth and hepatopancreas transcriptomic responses of the Chinse mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis) exposed to 0, 0.15 (BaP1) and 0.45 μg /L (BaP2) for 28 days. Crab survival and weight gain were reduced in the water born BaP in a dose-dependent way. The contents of hepatopancreas glycogen, triglyceride, total amino acids and lactic acid were all decreased after BaP exposure, indicating possible more energy consumption during detoxification. In the transcriptome analysis, a total of 106.65 million clean reads were obtained and assembled into 81,714 unigenes with an average length of 594 bp and N50 of 808 bp. Under 0.15 or 0.45 μg /L BaP exposure, 922 and 1129 unigenes in crabs were significantly expressed, annotated to 676 and 802 Gene Ontology (GO) terms respectively. The “cellular process” was the leading category for both concentrations. Thirteen significantly changed pathways were identified in both Control vs BaP1 and Control vs BaP2 groups. These pathways were divided into four different parts according to their reported functions, including metabolism, environmental information processing, organismal systems and cellular processes. Nice out of thirteen pathways in BaP1 were related to metabolism, containing amino acid metabolism, phenylpropanoid biosynthesis, monobactam biosynthesis and styrene degradation. Almost all the pathways related with the biosynthesis processes were down-regulated, while the degradation pathways were up-regulated. Seven out of thirteen pathways were classified into metabolism category in BaP2. These pathways were mostly associated with stress resistance rather than supplying energy. This study indicates that both concentrations of BaP disturbed nutrient metabolism, immune response and defense system in the crabs, while exposure to a higher concentration had a greater impact on immunity system than on metabolism. This study provides a better understanding of the underlying molecular and regulatory mechanisms in crustaceans coping with BaP toxicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-158
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


  • Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP)
  • Energy metabolism
  • Eriocheir sinensis
  • Immune response
  • Transcriptome


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