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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI:

Oyster calcifying fluid harbors persistent and dynamic autochthonous bacterial populations that may aid in shell formation

Eric G. Sakowski, K. Eric Wommack, Shawn W. Polson*

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica is a keystone species in estuarine environments but faces threats to shell formation associated with warming temperatures and acidification. Extrapallial fluid (EF), which is responsible for shell formation, harbors diverse and abundant microbial communities. Commensal microbial communities are vital to host health and fitness, yet long-term studies investigating temporal responses of the EF microbiome and its function in oyster fitness are lacking. In this study, bacterial communities of oyster EF and the water column were characterized monthly from October 2010 to September 2011. We investigated the selection, composition, and dynamics of resident and transient community members, evaluated the impact of temperature on EF microbial communities, and examined the functional role of the EF microbiome. Oyster EF communities were significantly different from the water column and were enriched for several taxa, including the Deltaproteobacteria, Epsilonproteobacteria, and Gammaproteobacteria. Overall, 94 resident members were identified in oyster EF. These members were persistent and abundant, comprising on average 33% of EF communities. Resident EF communities formed high-temperature and low-temperature groups and were more abundant overall at colder temperatures. Oyster EF resident communities were predicted to be enriched for dissimilatory nitrate reduction, nitrogen fixation, nitrification, and sulfite reductase genes. Sulfate and nitrate reduction may have a synergistic effect on calcium carbonate precipitation and indirectly aid in shell formation. Therefore, the potential role of the oyster EF microbiome in shell formation warrants further investigation as oysters and other shellfish face the future impacts of ocean warming and acidification.