The utilization of similar habitats by different species provides an ideal opportunity to identify genes underlying adaptation and acclimatization. Here, we analysed the gene expression of two closely related salamander species: Salamandra salamandra in Central Europe and Salamandra infraimmaculata in the Near East. These species inhabit similar habitat types: â € temporary ponds' and â € permanent streams' during larval development. We developed two species-specific gene expression microarrays, each targeting over 12 000 transcripts, including an overlapping subset of 8331 orthologues. Gene expression was examined for systematic differences between temporary ponds and permanent streams in larvae from both salamander species to establish gene sets and functions associated with these two habitat types. Only 20 orthologues were associated with a habitat in both species, but these orthologues did not show parallel expression patterns across species more than expected by chance. Functional annotation of a set of 106 genes with the highest effect size for a habitat suggested four putative gene function categories associated with a habitat in both species: cell proliferation, neural development, oxygen responses and muscle capacity. Among these high effect size genes was a single orthologue (14-3-3 protein zeta/YWHAZ) that was downregulated in temporary ponds in both species. The emergence of four gene function categories combined with a lack of parallel expression of orthologues (except 14-3-3 protein zeta) suggests that parallel habitat adaptation or acclimatization by larvae from S. salamandra and S. infraimmaculata to temporary ponds and permanent streams is mainly realized by different genes with a converging functionality.
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