The microbial communities and overall health of the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, have long been topics of interest due to the fundamental economic and ecological roles this species maintains. A broad scale characterization of the oyster microbiome over spatial and seasonal scales, however, has never been carried out. The primary goal of this study was to examine the factors mediating microbial communities of the gut and pallial fluid of C. virginica at three sites within the Long Island Sound estuary, with a focus on both genetic structure (T-RFLP) and physiological profiling (EcoPlates) of the microbiome. Results indicated that the genetic structure of microbial communities of oysters was minimally separated across sites, but was influenced by season. Although the microbial community structure was similar, the number of carbon sources utilized by these communities (richness) varied across site, season, and anatomical location within the host. Parameters including oyster condition index, Dermo disease, and ambient water temperature were measured to assess their influence on the oyster microbiome. Only water temperature was found to have a significant relationship with microbial community structure and richness. Results suggest that a core microbiome may exist within the eastern oyster, specifically for those populations that are not genetically distinct.
- Crassostrea virginica
- Marine bacteria