Paralytic shellfish toxins producing dinoflagellates cause dysbacteriosis in scallop gut microbial biofilms

Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2024 Mar 15:273:116146. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2024.116146. Epub 2024 Feb 26.


Filter-feeding bivalves could accumulate paralytic shellfish toxins (PSTs) produced by harmful dinoflagellates through diet. Despite that bivalves are resistant to these neurotoxins due to possessing PST-resistant sodium channel, exposure to PSTs-producing dinoflagellates impair bivalve survival. We hypothesized that ingesting PSTs-producing dinoflagellates may influence the gut microbiota, and then the health of bivalves. To test this idea, we compared the gut microbiota of the scallop Patinopecten yessoensis, after feeding with PST-producing or non-toxic dinoflagellates. Exposure to PSTs-producing dinoflagellates resulted in a decline of gut microbial diversity and a disturbance of community structure, accompanied by a significant increase in the abundance and richness of pathogenic bacteria, represented by Vibrio. Moreover, network analysis demonstrated extensive positive correlations between pathogenic bacteria abundances and PSTs concentrations in the digestive glands of the scallops. Furthermore, isolation of a dominant Vibrio strain and its genomic analysis revealed a variety of virulence factors, including the tolC outer membrane exporter, which were expressed in the gut microbiota. Finally, the infection experiment demonstrated scallop mortality caused by the isolated Vibrio strain; further, the pathogenicity of this Vibrio strain was attenuated by a mutation in the tolC gene. Together, these findings demonstrated that the PSTs may affect gut microbiota via direct and taxa-specific interactions with opportunistic pathogens, which proliferate after transition from seawater to the gut environment. The present study has revealed novel mechanisms towards deciphering the puzzles in environmental disturbances-caused death of an important aquaculture species.

Keywords: Genomics and metatranscriptomics; Gut microbiota; Harmful algal blooms, Paralytic shellfish toxin; Marine scallops; Vibrio.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bivalvia*
  • Dinoflagellida* / chemistry
  • Dysbiosis
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Pectinidae*
  • Shellfish
  • Shellfish Poisoning*
  • Toxins, Biological*


  • Toxins, Biological