Interrogating the microbiome for improved understanding of Pacific oyster diseases

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Oyster aquaculture represents a significant portion of both the Australian, and the global economy, with 𝘊𝘳𝘒𝘴𝘴𝘰𝘴𝘡𝘳𝘦𝘒 𝘨π˜ͺ𝘨𝘒𝘴 (the Pacific oyster) representing the most heavily cultivated commercial species. However, infectious diseases have emerged as a major obstacle for the successful growth and sustainability of the oyster aquaculture industry. Oyster diseases are often complex, occurring as a result of disturbance in the synergistic relationship between the host, environment, and pathogen/s. Perturbations of environmental factors (e.g. temperature, salinity, nutrients, pH) can have direct influences on the oyster’s immune system, and can allow for the proliferation and transmission of oyster pathogens. In particular, two major pathogens of 𝘊. 𝘨π˜ͺ𝘨𝘒𝘴, ostreid herpesvirus 1 (OsHV-1) and 𝘝π˜ͺ𝘣𝘳π˜ͺ𝘰 species, are both strongly driven by temperature. One such understudied factor that may influence oyster disease dynamics is the oyster microbiome. Studies in other model systems have shown the involvement of the microbiome in animal health, disease, and behavior. Because of this, it is likely the oyster microbiome also plays a role in oyster disease dynamics. The work presented in this thesis aimed to use a microbiome approach to provide further understanding of oyster diseases.
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