Characterisation of the Pacific Oyster Microbiome During a Summer Mortality Event

Abstract

The Pacific oyster, Crassostrea gigas, is a key commercial species that is cultivated globally. In recent years, disease outbreaks have heavily impacted C. gigas stocks worldwide, with many losses incurred during summer. A number of infectious agents have been associated with these summer mortality events, including viruses (particularly Ostreid herpesvirus 1, OsHV-1) and bacteria; however, cases where no known aetiological agent can be identified are common. In this study, we examined the microbiome of disease-affected and disease-unaffected C. gigas during a 2013–2014 summer mortality event in Port Stephens (Australia) where known oyster pathogens including OsHV-1 were not detected. The adductor muscle microbiomes of 70 C. gigas samples across 12 study sites in the Port Stephens estuary were characterised using 16S rRNA (V1–V3 region) amplicon sequencing, with the aim of comparing the influence of spatial location and disease state on the oyster microbiome. Spatial location was found to be a significant determinant of the disease-affected oyster microbiome. Furthermore, microbiome comparisons between disease states identified a significant increase in rare operational taxonomic units (OTUs) belonging to Vibrio harveyi and an unidentified member of the Vibrio genus in the disease-affected microbiome. This is indicative of a potential role of Vibrio species in oyster disease and supportive of previous culture-based examination of this mortality event.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to acknowledge the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries for their assistance in collecting and processing the oyster samples, as well as their continued support over the length of the project. This research was supported by an Australian Research Council Linkage Project LP160101785 and partly funded by Ausgem, a research partnership initiated between the University of Technology Sydney and the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries.

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Correspondence to Maurizio Labbate.

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King, W.L., Jenkins, C., Go, J. et al. Characterisation of the Pacific Oyster Microbiome During a Summer Mortality Event. Microb Ecol 77, 502–512 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00248-018-1226-9

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Keywords

  • Crassostrea gigas
  • Mortality
  • Oyster
  • Microbiome
  • Summer mortality