King, WL, Jenkins, C, Go, J, Siboni, N, Seymour, JR & Labbate, M 2019, 'Characterisation of the Pacific Oyster Microbiome During a Summer Mortality Event.', Microbial Ecology.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The Pacific oyster, Crassostrea gigas, is a key commercial species that is cultivated globally. In recent years, disease outbreaks have heavily impacted C. gigas stocks worldwide, with many losses incurred during summer. A number of infectious agents have been associated with these summer mortality events, including viruses (particularly Ostreid herpesvirus 1, OsHV-1) and bacteria; however, cases where no known aetiological agent can be identified are common. In this study, we examined the microbiome of disease-affected and disease-unaffected C. gigas during a 2013-2014 summer mortality event in Port Stephens (Australia) where known oyster pathogens including OsHV-1 were not detected. The adductor muscle microbiomes of 70 C. gigas samples across 12 study sites in the Port Stephens estuary were characterised using 16S rRNA (V1-V3 region) amplicon sequencing, with the aim of comparing the influence of spatial location and disease state on the oyster microbiome. Spatial location was found to be a significant determinant of the disease-affected oyster microbiome. Furthermore, microbiome comparisons between disease states identified a significant increase in rare operational taxonomic units (OTUs) belonging to Vibrio harveyi and an unidentified member of the Vibrio genus in the disease-affected microbiome. This is indicative of a potential role of Vibrio species in oyster disease and supportive of previous culture-based examination of this mortality event.
Green, TJ, Siboni, N, King, WL, Labbate, M, Seymour, JR & Raftos, D 2018, 'Simulated Marine Heat Wave Alters Abundance and Structure of Vibrio Populations Associated with the Pacific Oyster Resulting in a Mass Mortality Event.', Microbial ecology.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Marine heat waves are predicted to become more frequent and intense due to anthropogenically induced climate change, which will impact global production of seafood. Links between rising seawater temperature and disease have been documented for many aquaculture species, including the Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas. The oyster harbours a diverse microbial community that may act as a source of opportunistic pathogens during temperature stress. We rapidly raised the seawater temperature from 20 °C to 25 °C resulting in an oyster mortality rate of 77.4%. Under the same temperature conditions and with the addition of antibiotics, the mortality rate was only 4.3%, strongly indicating a role for bacteria in temperature-induced mortality. 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing revealed a change in the oyster microbiome when the temperature was increased to 25 °C, with a notable increase in the proportion of Vibrio sequences. This pattern was confirmed by qPCR, which revealed heat stress increased the abundance of Vibrio harveyi and Vibrio fortis by 324-fold and 10-fold, respectively. Our findings indicate that heat stress-induced mortality of C. gigas coincides with an increase in the abundance of putative bacterial pathogens in the oyster microbiome and highlights the negative consequences of marine heat waves on food production from aquaculture.
King, WL, Jenkins, C, Seymour, JR & Labbate, M 2018, 'Oyster disease in a changing environment: Decrypting the link between pathogen, microbiome and environment.', Marine environmental research.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Shifting environmental conditions are known to be important triggers of oyster diseases. The mechanism(s) behind these synergistic effects (interplay between host, environment and pathogen/s) are often not clear, although there is evidence that shifts in environmental conditions can affect oyster immunity, and pathogen growth and virulence. However, the impact of shifting environmental parameters on the oyster microbiome and how this affects oyster health and susceptibility to infectious pathogens remains understudied. In this review, we summarise the major diseases afflicting oysters with a focus on the role of environmental factors that can catalyse or amplify disease outbreaks. We also consider the potential role of the oyster microbiome in buffering or augmenting oyster disease outbreaks and suggest that a deeper understanding of the oyster microbiome, its links to the environment and its effect on oyster health and disease susceptibility, is required to develop new frameworks for the prevention and management of oyster diseases.
Irga, PJ, Armstrong, B, King, WL, Burchett, M & Torpy, FR 2016, 'Correspondence Between Urban Bird Roosts and the Presence of Aerosolised Fungal Pathogens.', Mycopathologia, vol. 181, no. 9-10, pp. 689-699.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Habitat fragmentation in urban environments concentrates bird populations that have managed to adapt to these newly developed areas. Consequently, the roosts of these birds are potentially creating environments conducive to fungal growth and dissemination. Airborne fungi derived from these environments are relatively unstudied, as is the potential health risk arising from these fungi. This study documented the diversity of culturable airborne fungal propagules associated with forty urban bird roosts. Environmental variables from each site were recorded to allow us to analyse the correspondence between different bird species, the substrate they occupy and airborne fungal propagules. Associations were established between Rhodotorula and Pacific black ducks, wood ducks, myna birds and miner birds when in the presence of bare soil as a substrate. Further associations were established between Penicillium, Scopulariopsis and Cunninghamella and pigeons, sparrows and swallows living in areas with hard surfaces such as bitumen and rocks.
Labbate, M, Orata, FD, Petty, NK, Jayatilleke, ND, King, WL, Kirchberger, PC, Allen, C, Mann, G, Mutreja, A, Thomson, NR, Boucher, Y & Charles, IG 2016, 'A genomic island in Vibrio cholerae with VPI-1 site-specific recombination characteristics contains CRISPR-Cas and type VI secretion modules.', Scientific Reports, vol. 6, pp. 1-7.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Cholera is a devastating diarrhoeal disease caused by certain strains of serogroup O1/O139 Vibrio cholerae. Mobile genetic elements such as genomic islands (GIs) have been pivotal in the evolution of O1/O139 V. cholerae. Perhaps the most important GI involved in cholera disease is the V. cholerae pathogenicity island 1 (VPI-1). This GI contains the toxin-coregulated pilus (TCP) gene cluster that is necessary for colonization of the human intestine as well as being the receptor for infection by the cholera-toxin bearing CTX phage. In this study, we report a GI (designated GIVchS12) from a non-O1/O139 strain of V. cholerae that is present in the same chromosomal location as VPI-1, contains an integrase gene with 94% nucleotide and 100% protein identity to the VPI-1 integrase, and attachment (att) sites 100% identical to those found in VPI-1. However, instead of TCP and the other accessory genes present in VPI-1, GIVchS12 contains a CRISPR-Cas element and a type VI secretion system (T6SS). GIs similar to GIVchS12 were identified in other V. cholerae genomes, also containing CRISPR-Cas elements and/or T6SS's. This study highlights the diversity of GIs circulating in natural V. cholerae populations and identifies GIs with VPI-1 recombination characteristics as a propagator of CRISPR-Cas and T6SS modules.