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Oysters naturally harbor the human gastric pathogen Vibrio parahaemolyticus, but the nature of this association is unknown. Because microbial interactions could influence the accumulation of V. parahaemolyticus in oysters, we investigated the composition of the microbiome in water and oysters at two ecologically unique sites in the Great Bay Estuary, New Hampshire using 16s rRNA profiling. We then evaluated correlations between bacteria inhabiting the oyster with V. parahaemolyticus abundance quantified using a most probable number (MPN) analysis. Even though oysters filter-feed, their microbiomes were not a direct snapshot of the bacterial community in overlaying water, suggesting they selectively accumulate some bacterial phyla. The microbiome of individual oysters harvested more centrally in the bay were relatively more similar to each other and had fewer unique phylotypes, but overall more taxonomic and metabolic diversity, than the microbiomes from tributary-harvested oysters that were individually more variable with lower taxonomic and metabolic diversity. Oysters harvested from the same location varied in V. parahaemolyticus abundance, with the highest abundance oysters collected from one location. This study, which to our knowledge is the first of its kind to evaluate associations of V. parahaemolyticus abundance with members of individual oyster microbiomes, implies that sufficient sampling and depth of sequencing may reveal microbiome members that could impact V. parahaemolyticus abundance.
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Marcinkiewicz, Ashley L.; Schuster, Brian M.; Jones, Stephen H.; Cooper, Vaughn S.; and Whistler, Cheryl A., "Bacterial community profiles and Vibrio parahaemolyticus abundance in individual oysters and their association with estuarine ecology" (2017). New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station Publications. 333.
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