Isaiah CH Box, Ben J Matthews, Katie E. Marshall. 2021. Molecular evidence of intertidal habitats selecting for repeated ice-binding protein evolution in invertebrates. Journal of Experimental Biology
Ice-binding proteins (IBPs) have evolved independently in multiple taxonomic groups to improve their survival at sub-zero temperatures. Intertidal invertebrates in temperate and polar regions frequently encounter sub-zero temperatures, yet there is little information on IBPs in these organisms. We hypothesized that there are far more IBPs than are currently known and that the occurrence of freezing in the intertidal zone selects for these proteins. We compiled a list of genome-sequenced invertebrates across multiple habitats and a list of known IBP sequences and used BLAST to identify a wide array of putative IBPs in those invertebrates. We found that the probability of an invertebrate species having an IBP was significantly greater in intertidal species than in those primarily found in open ocean or freshwater habitats. These intertidal IBPs had high sequence similarity to fish and tick antifreeze glycoproteins and fish type II antifreeze proteins. Previously established classifiers based on machine learning techniques further predicted ice-binding activity in the majority of our newly identified putative IBPs. We investigated the potential evolutionary origin of one putative IBP from the hard-shelled mussel Mytilus coruscus and suggest that it arose through gene duplication and neofunctionalization. We show that IBPs likely readily evolve in response to freezing risk and that there is an array of uncharacterized IBPs, and highlight the need for broader laboratory-based surveys of the diversity of ice-binding activity across diverse taxonomic and ecological groups.