The microbial communities and overall health of the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, have long been topics of interest due to the fundamental economic and ecological roles this species maintains. A broad scale characterization of the oyster microbiome over spatial and seasonal scales, however, has never been carried out. The primary goal of this study was to examine the factors mediating microbial communities of the gut and pallial fluid of C. virginica at three sites within the Long Island Sound estuary, with a focus on both genetic structure (T-RFLP) and physiological profiling (EcoPlates) of the microbiome. Results indicated that the genetic structure of microbial communities of oysters was minimally separated across sites, but was influenced by season. Although the microbial community structure was similar, the number of carbon sources utilized by these communities (richness) varied across site, season, and anatomical location within the host. Parameters including oyster condition index, Dermo disease, and ambient water temperature were measured to assess their influence on the oyster microbiome. Only water temperature was found to have a significant relationship with microbial community structure and richness. Results suggest that a core microbiome may exist within the eastern oyster, specifically for those populations that are not genetically distinct.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Norm and James Bloom of Norm Bloom and Son in Norwalk, CT and James Markow of The Noank Aquaculture Cooperative in Noank, CT for their generous help in collecting oysters. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and work toward improving this manuscript. This research was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases program to JEW (EF-0914459) and REH (EF-0914450). Support was also provided by a grant from NOAA's Oceans and Human Health Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Research and Training Initiative on Coastal Ecosystems and Human Health (I-RICH) to JEW.
- Crassostrea virginica
- Marine bacteria