Dynamics of the Sydney rock oyster microbiota before and during a QX disease event

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Aquaculture (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 2021, 541, pp. Not-Available
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The Sydney rock oyster (SRO; Saccostrea glomerata) is the most intensively farmed oyster species in Australia however, Queensland unknown (QX) disease has resulted in substantial losses and impeded productivity. QX disease is caused by infection with the parasite Marteilia sydneyi, and like other diseases, outbreaks are driven by a series of complex environmental and host factors such as seasonality, seawater salinity and oyster genetics. A potential but understudied factor in QX disease is the SRO microbiota, which we sought to examine before and during a QX disease outbreak. Using 16S rRNA (V1 – V3 region) amplicon sequencing, we examined the microbiota of SROs deployed in an estuary where QX disease occurs, with sampling conducted fortnightly over 22 weeks. Marteilia sydneyi was detected in the SROs by PCR (QX-positive), 16 weeks after the first sampling event and sporonts were observed in the digestive gland two weeks later on. There were no apparent patterns observed between the microbiota of QX-positive SROs with and without digestive gland sporonts however, the microbiota of QX-positive SROs was significantly different from those sampled prior to detection of M. sydneyi and from those negative for M. sydneyi post detection. As a result, shifts in microbiota structure occurred before sporulation in the digestive gland and either before or shortly after pathogen colonisation. The microbiota shifts associated with QX-positive oysters were principally driven by a relative abundance increase of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) assigned to unclassified species of the Borrelia and Candidatus Hepatoplasma genera and a relative abundance decrease in an OTU assigned to an unclassified species of the Mycoplasma genus. Since Mycoplasma species are common microbiota features of SROs and other oysters, we propose that there may be an important ecological link between Mycoplasma species and the health state of SROs.
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