Transcriptome analysis of the endangered Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus): Immune modulation in response to Aeromonas hydrophila infection

Zhitao Qi, Qihuan Zhang, Zisheng Wang, Tianyi Ma, Jie Zhou, Jason W Holland, Qian Gao

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45 Citations (Scopus)


The endangered Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus) is the largest extant amphibian species. Disease outbreaks represent one of the major factors threatening A. davidianus populations in the wild and the viability of artificial breeding programmes. Development of future immune therapies to eliminate infectious disease in A. davidianus is dependent on a thorough understanding of the immune mechanisms elicited by pathogen encounters. To this end we have undertaken, for the first time in amphibians, differential transcriptome analysis of the giant salamander response to Aeromonas hydrophila, one of the most devastating pathogens affecting amphibian populations. Out of 87,204 non-redundant consensus unigenes 19,216 were annotated, 6834 of which were upregulated and 906 down-regulated following bacterial infection. 2058 unigenes were involved with immune system processes, including 287 differentially expressed unigenes indicative of the impact of bacterial infection on several innate and adaptive immune pathways in the giant salamander. Other pathways not directly associated with immune-related activity were differentially expressed, including developmental, structural, molecular and growth processes. Overall, this work provides valuable insights into the underlying immune mechanisms elicited during bacterial infection in amphibians that may aid in the future development of disease control measures in protecting the Chinese giant salamander. With the unique position of amphibians in the transition of tetrapods from aquatic to terrestrial habitats, our study will also be invaluable towards the further understanding of the evolution of tetrapod immunity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-95
Number of pages11
JournalVeterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
Early online date17 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant nos. 31302221 and 31272666) and Jiangsu Province (Grant no. BK2011418and BK20151297), and partially by the “Qinglan” project of Jiangsu province of China and the BBSRC (BB/K009125/1). We thank Dr. Aihua Li, State Key Laboratory of Freshwater Ecology and Biotechnology, Institute of Hydrobiology, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, for kindly providing A. hydrophila, and Dr. Jun Zou, Scottish Fish Immunology Research Center, University of Aberdeen, for his critical comments on the manuscript.


  • Transcriptome sequencing
  • Chinese giant salamander
  • Aeromonas hydrophila
  • Bacterial infection
  • Immune modulation
  • RNA


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