Hemolymph microbiome of Pacific oysters in response to temperature, temperature stress and infection

ISME J. 2015 Mar;9(3):670-82. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2014.160. Epub 2014 Sep 2.


Microbiota provide their hosts with a range of beneficial services, including defense from external pathogens. However, host-associated microbial communities themselves can act as a source of opportunistic pathogens depending on the environment. Marine poikilotherms and their microbiota are strongly influenced by temperature, but experimental studies exploring how temperature affects the interactions between both parties are rare. To assess the effects of temperature, temperature stress and infection on diversity, composition and dynamics of the hemolymph microbiota of Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas), we conducted an experiment in a fully-crossed, three-factorial design, in which the temperature acclimated oysters (8 or 22 °C) were exposed to temperature stress and to experimental challenge with a virulent Vibrio sp. strain. We monitored oyster survival and repeatedly collected hemolymph of dead and alive animals to determine the microbiome composition by 16s rRNA gene amplicon pyrosequencing. We found that the microbial dynamics and composition of communities in healthy animals (including infection survivors) were significantly affected by temperature and temperature stress, but not by infection. The response was mediated by changes in the incidence and abundance of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) and accompanied by little change at higher taxonomic levels, indicating dynamic stability of the hemolymph microbiome. Dead and moribund oysters, on the contrary, displayed signs of community structure disruption, characterized by very low diversity and proliferation of few OTUs. We can therefore link short-term responses of host-associated microbial communities to abiotic and biotic factors and assess the potential feedback between microbiota dynamics and host survival during disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Crassostrea / microbiology*
  • Hemolymph / microbiology*
  • Microbiota*
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Temperature*
  • Vibrio