Seaweeds influence oyster microbiota and disease susceptibility

A growing awareness of role that microbiota can play in mediating the effects of pathogens on hosts has given rise to the concept of the pathobiome. Recently, we demonstrated that the Pacific oyster mortality syndrome affecting Crassostrea gigas oysters is caused by infection with the Ostreid herpesvirus type 1 (OsHV-1) followed by infection with multiple bacterial taxa.

Here we extend the concept of this pathobiome beyond the host species and its bacterial microbiota by investigating how seaweed living in association with oysters influences their response to the disease. We hypothesized that by their mere presence in the environment, different species of seaweeds can positively or negatively influence the risk of disease in oysters by shaping their bacterial microbiota and their immune response. Although seaweed and oysters do not have direct ecological interactions, they are connected by seawater and likely share microbes.

To test our hypothesis, oysters were acclimated with green, brown or red algae for 2 weeks and then challenged with OsHV-1. We monitored host survival and pathogen proliferation and performed bacterial microbiota and transcriptome analyses.

We found that seaweeds can alter the bacterial microbiota of the host and its response to the disease. More particularly, green algae belonging to the genus Ulva spp. induced bacterial microbiota dysbiosis in oyster and modification of its transcriptional immune response leading to increased susceptibility to the disease.

This work provides a better understanding of a marine disease and highlights the importance of considering both macrobiotic and microbiotic interactions for conservation, management and exploitation of marine ecosystems and resources.


bivalve, disease ecology, epidemiology, macroalgae, microbiome, pathogen

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Dugeny Elyne, de Lorgeril Julien, Petton Bruno, Toulza Eve, Gueguen Yannick, Pernet Fabrice (2022). Seaweeds influence oyster microbiota and disease susceptibility. Journal Of Animal Ecology. 91 (4). 805-818.,

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