Effect of the environment on the oyster microbiome and OsHV-1 infection

By means which are not yet understood, bacteria contribute to mass mortality events in Crassotrea gigas associated with Ostreid herpesvirus-1. In this study, Erandi Pathirana demonstrated that the local environment shapes the bacterial population of the oyster, and this seems to affect subsequent mortality following exposure to OsHV-1.

Pathirana E, Fuhrmann M, Whittington R and Hick P (2019). Influence of environment on the pathogenesis of Ostreid herpesvirus-1(OsHV-1) infections in Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) through differential microbiome responses. Heliyon 5, e02101.

Summary: The oyster microbiome is thought to contribute to the pathogenesis of mass mortality disease in Pacific oysters, associated with OsHV-1. As filter-feeders, oysters host a microbiota that can be influenced by the estuarine environment. This may alter susceptibility to OsHV-1 infections, causing variable mortality. This study aimed at: (1) differences in the microbiome of Pacific oysters with a common origin but grown in geographically distinct estuaries; (2) evaluating changes occurring in the microbiota, especially in Vibrio, and (3) differential responses of the oyster microbiome, in response to an OsHV-1 infection. Pacific oysters sourced from a single hatchery but raised separately in Patonga Creek, Shoalhaven River and Clyde River of NSW, Australia, were used and challenged with OsHV-1. The initial microbiome composition was different in the three batches and changed further, post-injection (p<0.05). The Patonga oysters with the highest mortality also had higher OsHV-1 and Vibrio quantities compared to the other two batches (p<0.05). The higher initial bacterial diversity in Patonga oysters decreased in moribund oysters which was not observed in the other two batches (p<0.05). The microbiome of survivors of OsHV-1 infection and negative control oysters of two batches, did not show any changes with the relevant pre-challenged microbiome. A strong correlation was observed between the OsHV-1 and Vibrio quantities in OsHV-1 infected oysters (r=0.6; p<0.001). In conclusion, the Pacific oyster microbiome differed in different batches despite a common hatchery origin. Different microbiomes responded differently with a differential outcome of OsHV-1 challenge. The higher Vibrio load in oysters with higher OsHV-1 content and higher mortality, suggests a role of Vibrio in the pathogenesis of this mortality disease. This study provided insights of the potential of different estuarine environments to shape the Pacific oyster microbiome and how different microbiomes are associated with different outcomes of OsHV-1 infection.

If you would like a copy of the scientific paper please send a request by e-mail to: paul.hick@sydney.edu.au