Hematodinium perezi, a parasitic dinoflagellate, infects and kills blue crabs, Callinectes sapidus, along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States. The parasite proliferates within host hemolymph and tissues, and also produces free-swimming biflagellated dinospores that emerge from infected crabs. Infections in C. sapidus recur annually, and it is not known if biotic or environmental reservoirs contribute to reinfection and outbreaks. To address this data gap, a quantitative PCR assay based on the internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) region of H. perezi rRNA genes was developed to asses the temporal and spatial incidence of the parasite in Delaware and Maryland coastal bays.
A previously-used PCR assay for H. perezi, based on the small subunit rRNA gene sequence, was found to lack adequate species specificity to discriminate non-Hematodinium sp. dinoflagellate species in environmental samples. A new ITS2-targeted assay was developed and validated to detect H. perezi DNA in sediment and water samples using E. coli carrying the H. perezi rDNA genes. Application of the method to environmental samples identified potential hotspots in sediment in Indian River Inlet, DE and Chincoteague Bay, MD and VA. H. perezi DNA was not detected in co-occurring shrimp or snails, even during an outbreak of the parasite in C. sapidus.
H. perezi is present in water and sediment samples in Maryland and Delaware coastal bays from April through November with a wide spatial and temporal variability in incidence. Sampling sites with high levels of H. perezi DNA in both bays share characteristics of silty, organic sediments and low tidal currents. The environmental detection of H. perezi in spring, ahead of peak prevalence in crabs, points to gaps in our understanding of the parasite’s life history prior to infection in crabs as well as the mode of environmental transmission. To better understand the H. perezi life cycle will require further monitoring of the parasite in habitats as well as hosts. Improved understanding of potential environmental transmission to crabs will facilitate the development of disease forecasting.
Blue crab; Hematodinium; Parasite; Disease reservoir; Fishery
Parasitic dinoflagellates of the genus Hematodinium are significant pathogens affecting the global decapod crustacean fishery. Despite this, considerable knowledge gaps exist regarding the life history of the pathogen in vivo, and the role of free living life stages in transmission to naïve hosts.
In this study, we describe a novel disease in European brown shrimp (Crangon crangon) caused by infection with a parasitic dinoflagellate of the genus Hematodinium. This is the second example host within the Infraorder Caridea (shrimp) and significantly, the first description within the superfamily Crangonoidea. Based upon analysis of the rRNA gene (SSU) and spacers (ITS1), the parasite in C. crangon is the same as that previously described infecting Nephrops norvegicus and Cancer pagurus from European seas, and to the parasite infecting several other commercially important crab species in the Northern Hemisphere. The parasite is however distinct from the type species, H. perezi, found infecting type hosts (Carcinus maenas and Liocarcinus depurator) from nearby sites within Europe. Despite these similarities, the current study has also described for the first time, a bacteria-like endosymbiont within dinospore stages of the parasite infecting shrimp. The endosymbionts were either contained individually within electron lucent vacuoles within the parasite cell cytoplasm, or remained in direct contact with the parasite cytoplasm or in some cases, the nucleoplasm. In all of these cases, no apparent detrimental effects of colonization were observed within the parasite cell.
The presence of bacteria-like endosymbionts within dinospore life stages presumes that the relationship between the dinoflagellate and the bacteria is extended beyond the period of liberation of spores from the infected host shrimp. In this context, a potential role of endosymbiosis in the survival of free-living stages of the parasite is possible. The finding offers a further intriguing insight into the life history of this enigmatic pathogen of marine crustacean hosts and highlights a potential for mixotrophy in the parasitic dinoflagellates contained within the genus Hematodinium.
ITS1; Phylogenetics; Dinoflagellate; Bacteria; Crustacean; Disease; Fishery
This study reports on an emerging fungal disease of the edible crab, Cancer pagurus. Juvenile (prerecruit) crabs were found to be subject to this disease condition during the months of May to September at two intertidal sites in South Wales, United Kingdom. Histopathology revealed that the fungi overwhelm the host response in the tissues, leading to progressive septicemia. The causative agent of this infection was isolated and grown in pure culture and was identified as a member of the Ophiocordyceps clade by sequencing of the small subunit of the fungal ribosomal DNA (rDNA). Of the crabs naturally infected with the fungus, 94% had a coinfection with the parasitic dinoflagellate Hematodinium species. To determine if there was any interaction between the two disease-causing agents, apparently fungus-free crabs, both with and without natural Hematodinium infections, were challenged with the fungal isolate. The presence of Hematodinium caused a significant reduction in fungal multiplication in the hemocoel of the crabs in comparison to that in Hematodinium-free individuals. Histopathology of coinfected crabs showed a systemic multiplication of Hematodinium within host tissues, leading to a rapid death, while Hematodinium-free crabs experimentally infected with the fungal isolate died due to fungal sepsis (septicemia) with the same characteristic pathology as seen in natural infections.
Increasingly, diseases of marine organisms are recognized as significant biotic factors affecting ecosystem health. However, the responsible disease agents are often unknown and the discovery and description of novel parasites most often rely on morphological descriptions made by highly trained specialists. Here, we describe a new approach for parasite discovery, utilizing denaturing high-performance liquid chromatography (DHPLC) reverse-phase ion-paring technology. Systematic investigations of major DHPLC variables, including temperature, gradient conditions, and target amplicon characteristics were conducted to develop a mechanistic understanding of DNA fragment separation by DHPLC. As a model system, 18S rRNA genes from the blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) and a parasitic dinoflagellate Hematodinium sp. were used. Binding of 18S rRNA gene PCR amplicons to the DNA separation column in the presence of triethylammonium acetate (TEAA) was inversely correlated with temperature and could be predicted based on the estimated DNA helicity of the PCR amplicon. Amplicons of up to 498 bp were resolved as single chromatographic peaks if they had high (>95%) DNA helicity. Amplicons that differed by as few as 2 bp could be resolved. Separation of 18S rRNA gene PCR amplicons was optimized by simultaneous manipulation of both temperature and solvent gradients. The optimal conditions included targeting regions of high DNA helicity (>95%), temperatures in the range of 57 to 63°C, and a linear acetonitrile gradient from 13.75 to 17.5% acetonitrile in 0.1 M TEAA (55 to 70% buffer B) over a 9-min period. Under these conditions, amplicons from a variety of parasites and their hosts can be separated and detected by DHPLC.
Environmental mycobacteria are of increasing concern in terms of the diseases they cause in both humans and animals. Although they are considered to be ubiquitous in aquatic environments, few studies have examined their ecology, and no ecological studies of coastal marine systems have been conducted. This study uses indirect gradient analysis to illustrate the strong relationships that exists between coastal water quality and the abundance of Mycobacterium spp. within a U.S. mid-Atlantic embayment. Mycobacterium species abundance and water quality conditions (based on 16 physical and chemical variables) were examined simultaneously in monthly samples obtained at 18 Maryland and Virginia coastal bay stations from August 2005 to November 2006 (n = 212). A quantitative molecular assay for Mycobacterium spp. was evaluated and applied, allowing for rapid, direct enumeration. By using indirect gradient analysis (environmental principal-components analysis), a strong linkage between eutrophic conditions, characterized by low dissolved-oxygen levels and elevated nutrient concentrations, and mycobacteria was determined. More specifically, a strong nutrient response was noted, with all nitrogen components and turbidity measurements correlating positively with abundance (r values of >0.30; P values of <0.001), while dissolved oxygen showed a strong negative relationship (r = −0.38; P = 0.01). Logistic regression models developed using salinity, dissolved oxygen, and total nitrogen showed a high degree of concordance (83%). These results suggest that coastal restoration and management strategies designed to reduce eutrophication may also reduce total mycobacteria in coastal waters.
Crustaceans are key components of marine ecosystems which, like other exploited marine taxa, show seasonable patterns of distribution and activity, with consequences for their availability to capture by targeted fisheries. Despite concerns over the sustainability of crab fisheries worldwide, difficulties in observing crabs’ behaviour over their annual cycles, and the timings and durations of reproduction, remain poorly understood. From the release of 128 mature female edible crabs tagged with electronic data storage tags (DSTs), we demonstrate predominantly westward migration in the English Channel. Eastern Channel crabs migrated further than western Channel crabs, while crabs released outside the Channel showed little or no migration. Individual migrations were punctuated by a 7-month hiatus, when crabs remained stationary, coincident with the main period of crab spawning and egg incubation. Incubation commenced earlier in the west, from late October onwards, and brooding locations, determined using tidal geolocation, occurred throughout the species range. With an overall return rate of 34%, our results demonstrate that previous reluctance to tag crabs with relatively high-cost DSTs for fear of loss following moulting is unfounded, and that DSTs can generate precise information with regards life-history metrics that would be unachievable using other conventional means.
The present paper examines the functional diversity-environment relation in a placer rich tropical bay. Understanding the environmental variables that determine the biodiversity pattern will help in the effective conservation plans of coastal habitat. However, few studies have been carried out on the biodiversity-environment relation from the diverse tropical coastal ecosystem. The geographic location of Kalbadevi Bay along the west coast of India provides an opportunity to study the functional diversity pattern of macrofauna along an environmental gradient. Additionally, the area is also a potential placer mining site. Seasonal sampling was carried out for macrofauna and environmental variables. Macrofaunal functional diversity showed significant temporal variation related to the environmental parameters. The most important environmental variables were organic matter and sediment texture. Filter feeders dominated during postmonsoon which is a period when the water column is enriched with sinking detritus. The deposit feeders which rapidly ingest the settled detritus and also transport it to deeper sediment for the subsurface deposit feeders dominated during premonsoon. Abundance of carnivores was high during premonsoon, a response to increase in food in terms of deposit feeders. The result thus indicates that the temporal environmental variation influenced the macrofaunal functional diversity pattern in the Kalbadevi Bay.
Seagrass meadows are highly productive habitats that provide important ecosystem services in the coastal zone, including carbon and nutrient sequestration. Organic carbon in seagrass sediment, known as “blue carbon,” accumulates from both in situ production and sedimentation of particulate carbon from the water column. Using a large-scale restoration (>1700 ha) in the Virginia coastal bays as a model system, we evaluated the role of seagrass, Zosteramarina, restoration in carbon storage in sediments of shallow coastal ecosystems. Sediments of replicate seagrass meadows representing different age treatments (as time since seeding: 0, 4, and 10 years), were analyzed for % carbon, % nitrogen, bulk density, organic matter content, and 210Pb for dating at 1-cm increments to a depth of 10 cm. Sediment nutrient and organic content, and carbon accumulation rates were higher in 10-year seagrass meadows relative to 4-year and bare sediment. These differences were consistent with higher shoot density in the older meadow. Carbon accumulation rates determined for the 10-year restored seagrass meadows were 36.68 g C m-2 yr-1. Within 12 years of seeding, the restored seagrass meadows are expected to accumulate carbon at a rate that is comparable to measured ranges in natural seagrass meadows. This the first study to provide evidence of the potential of seagrass habitat restoration to enhance carbon sequestration in the coastal zone.
Bacteria were readily isolated from the hemolymph of a majority (88%) of the blue crabs collected from Galveston Bay, Texas. The hemolymph of most crabs contained moderate (greater than 10(3) bacteria/ml) to heavy (greater than (10(5) bacteria/ml) infections. Large variances were observed in the bacterial number associated with individual crabs, but no significant difference was observed between the mean bacterial levels in the hemolymph of crabs collected during different seasons of the sampling year. Vibrio spp. were the predominant bacterial types in the hemolymph of infected crabs and increased in number significantly during the summer season. Warmer water temperatures were thought to be responsible for this increase. Bacterial numbers and the percentage of Vibrio spp. were highest in the interior of the crab bodies, especially in the digestive tract. The exterior of the crabs did not appear to be the source of the hemolymph's bacterial flora. Bacteria taxonomically identical to Vibrio cholerae. V. vulnificus, and V. parahaemolyticus were routinely isolated from the crab hemolymph and external carapace. V. parahaemolyticus was the most prevalent of the pathogenic Vibrio spp. and was isolated from 23% of the hemolymph samples. V. vulnificus (7%) and V. cholerae (2%) occurred less commonly in the hemolymph. The incidences of V. parachaemolyticus and V. vulnificus were related and increased in the summer months. Both organisms were frequently isolated from the same crab.
In alveolate evolution, dinoflagellates have developed many unique features, including the cell that has epicone and hypocone, the undulating transverse flagellum. However, it remains unclear how these features evolved. The early branching dinoflagellates so far investigated such as Hematodinium, Amoebophrya and Oxyrrhis marina differ in many ways from of core dinoflagellates, or dinokaryotes. Except those handful of well studied taxa, the vast majority of early branching dinoflagellates are known only by environmental sequences, and remain enigmatic. In this study we describe two new species of the early branching dinoflagellates, Psammosa pacifica n. g., n. sp. and P. atlantica n. sp. from marine intertidal sandy beach. Molecular phylogeny of the small subunit (SSU) ribosomal RNA and Hsp90 gene places Psammosa spp. as an early branch among the dinoflagellates. Morphologically (1) they lack the typical dinoflagellate epicone–hypocone structure, and (2) undulation in either flagella. Instead they display a mosaïc of dinokaryotes traits, i.e. (3) presence of bi-partite trychocysts; Oxyrrhis marina–like traits, i.e. (4) presence of flagellar hairs, (5) presence of two-dimensional cobweb scales ornamenting both flagella (6) transversal cell division; a trait shared with some syndineansand Parvilucifera spp. i.e. (7) a nucleus with a conspicuous nucleolus and condensed chromatin distributed beneath the nuclear envelope; as well as Perkinsus marinus -like features i.e. (8) separate ventral grooves where flagella emerge and (9) lacking dinoflagellate-type undulating flagellum. Notably Psammosa retains an apical complex structure, which is shared between perkinsids, colpodellids, chromerids and apicomplexans, but is not found in dinokaryotic dinoflagellates.
A study was conducted during the summer of 2009 (from July to September) to characterize mosquito communities among different habitats in five historically ditched tidal salt marshes and three adjacent wooded areas in the E.A. Vaughn Wetland Management Area on the Maryland Delmarva Peninsula, USA. Study marshes are characteristic of Atlantic coastal salt marshes that had undergone grid ditching from the 1930s to 1950s. In the autumn of 2008 (October and November) ditches were plugged near their outlets in two (‘experimental’) marshes with the aim to restore their natural tidal hydrology. The three other marshes were not plugged. Marshes were sampled from July to September in 2009 by using standard dip count method. A total of 2,457 mosquito larvae representing six species were collected on 15.4% (86/557) of all sample occasions and 399 adults representing four mosquito species were collected from landing counts. Aedes sollicitans, Anopheles bradleyi and Culex salinarius were the most common species collected in larval habitats, and Ae. sollicitans was the most common adult collected. Wooded habitats had more total mosquitoes, were also more frequently occupied by mosquitoes and had higher densities of mosquitoes than marsh habitats. Almost all larvae collected from marshes were from one experimental and one control site. The majority of larvae at the control site were Ae. sollicitans in marsh pannes while Cx. salinarius, An. bradleyi, Ae. cantator, and Ae. sollicitans were collected in high numbers from ditches at the experimental site. We found a difference in the proportion of marsh pannes occupied by Ae. sollicitans but not total mosquitoes sampled 4–5 days after spring tide events than on other occasions. Salinity measures of 42 larval habitats showed lower median salinity in mosquito-occupied habitats (11.5 ppt) than unoccupied habitats (20.1 ppt), and in habitats in wooded areas followed by ditches and pannes in marsh areas. The results of this study suggest that wooded areas adjacent to salt marshes may be a substantial source of biting adult mosquitoes usually associated with salt marsh habitats and that ditch plugging may alter the productivity of mosquitoes on some marshes. We recommend future studies consider mosquito productivity from habitats surrounding salt marshes, and if assessments of marsh alterations are a goal, compare multiple experimental and control areas before and after treatments to determine if alterations have a consistent impact on regional mosquito production.
ditch plugging; Delmarva Peninsula; tidal salt marsh; restoration; salinity
Marine microbial communities have been essential contributors to global biomass, nutrient cycling, and biodiversity since the early history of Earth, but so far their community distribution patterns remain unknown in most marine ecosystems.
The synthesis of 9.6 million bacterial V6-rRNA amplicons for 509 samples that span the global ocean's surface to the deep-sea floor shows that pelagic and benthic communities greatly differ, at all taxonomic levels, and share <10% bacterial types defined at 3% sequence similarity level. Surface and deep water, coastal and open ocean, and anoxic and oxic ecosystems host distinct communities that reflect productivity, land influences and other environmental constraints such as oxygen availability. The high variability of bacterial community composition specific to vent and coastal ecosystems reflects the heterogeneity and dynamic nature of these habitats. Both pelagic and benthic bacterial community distributions correlate with surface water productivity, reflecting the coupling between both realms by particle export. Also, differences in physical mixing may play a fundamental role in the distribution patterns of marine bacteria, as benthic communities showed a higher dissimilarity with increasing distance than pelagic communities.
This first synthesis of global bacterial distribution across different ecosystems of the World's oceans shows remarkable horizontal and vertical large-scale patterns in bacterial communities. This opens interesting perspectives for the definition of biogeographical biomes for bacteria of ocean waters and the seabed.
Antimicrobial use in food-animal production is an issue of growing concern. The application of antimicrobials for therapy, prophylaxis, and growth promotion in broiler chicken production has been associated with the emergence and dissemination of antimicrobial-resistant enteric bacteria. Although human exposure to antimicrobial-resistant bacteria through food has been examined extensively, little attention has been paid to occupational and environmental pathways of exposure.
Our objective was to measure the relative risk for colonization with antimicrobial-resistant Escherichia coli among poultry workers compared with community referents.
We collected stool samples and health surveys from 16 poultry workers and 33 community referents in the Delmarva region of Maryland and Virginia. E. coli was cultured from stool samples, and susceptibility to ampicillin, ciprofloxacin, ceftriaxone, gentamicin, nitrofurantoin, and tetracycline was determined for each E. coli isolate. We estimated the relative risk for carrying antimicrobial-resistant E. coli among poultry workers compared with community referents.
Poultry workers had 32 times the odds of carrying gentamicin-resistant E. coli compared with community referents. The poultry workers were also at significantly increased risk of carrying multidrug-resistant E. coli.
Occupational exposure to antimicrobial-resistant E. coli from live-animal contact in the broiler chicken industry may be an important route of entry for antimicrobial-resistant E. coli into the community.
antibiotic; antimicrobial; aminoglycoside; chickens; Escherichia coli; gentamicin; occupational exposure; poultry; resistance; worker
Microorganisms associated with coastal sands serve as a natural biofilter, providing essential nutrient recycling in nearshore environments and acting to maintain coastal ecosystem health. Anthropogenic stressors often impact these ecosystems, but little is known about whether these disturbances can be identified through microbial community change. The blowout of the Macondo Prospect reservoir on April 20, 2010, which released oil hydrocarbons into the Gulf of Mexico, presented an opportunity to examine whether microbial community composition might provide a sensitive measure of ecosystem disturbance. Samples were collected on four occasions, beginning in mid-June, during initial beach oiling, until mid-November from surface sand and surf zone waters at seven beaches stretching from Bay St. Louis, MS to St. George Island, FL USA. Oil hydrocarbon measurements and NOAA shoreline assessments indicated little to no impact on the two most eastern beaches (controls). Sequence comparisons of bacterial ribosomal RNA gene hypervariable regions isolated from beach sands located to the east and west of Mobile Bay in Alabama demonstrated that regional drivers account for markedly different bacterial communities. Individual beaches had unique community signatures that persisted over time and exhibited spatial relationships, where community similarity decreased as horizontal distance between samples increased from one to hundreds of meters. In contrast, sequence analyses detected larger temporal and less spatial variation among the water samples. Superimposed upon these beach community distance and time relationships, was increased variability in bacterial community composition from oil hydrocarbon contaminated sands. The increased variability was observed among the core, resident, and transient community members, indicating the occurrence of community-wide impacts rather than solely an overprinting of oil hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria onto otherwise relatively stable sand population structures. Among sequences classified to genus, Alcanivorax, Alteromonas, Marinobacter, Winogradskyella, and Zeaxanthinibacter exhibited the largest relative abundance increases in oiled sands.
The objective is to identify the spatial and temporal variability of the hydrochemical quality of the water column in a subtropical coastal system, Daya Bay, China. Water samples were collected in four seasons at 12 monitoring sites. The Southeast Asian monsoons, northeasterly from October to the next April and southwesterly from May to September have also an important influence on water quality in Daya Bay. In the spatial pattern, two groups have been identified, with the help of multidimensional scaling analysis and cluster analysis. Cluster I consisted of the sites S3, S8, S10 and S11 in the west and north coastal parts of Daya Bay. Cluster I is mainly related to anthropogenic activities such as fish-farming. Cluster II consisted of the rest of the stations in the center, east and south parts of Daya Bay. Cluster II is mainly related to seawater exchange from South China Sea.
Daya Bay; principal component analysis; multidimensional scaling analysis; statistical techniques; water quality
Few studies of microbial biogeography address variability across both multiple habitats and multiple seasons. Here we examine the spatial and temporal variability of bacterioplankton community composition of the Columbia River coastal margin using 16S amplicon pyrosequencing of 300 water samples collected in 2007 and 2008. Communities separated into seven groups (ANOSIM, P<0.001): river, estuary, plume, epipelagic, mesopelagic, shelf bottom (depth<350 m) and slope bottom (depth>850 m). The ordination of these samples was correlated with salinity (ρ=−0.83) and depth (ρ=−0.62). Temporal patterns were obscured by spatial variability among the coastal environments, and could only be detected within individual groups. Thus, structuring environmental factors (for example, salinity, depth) dominate over seasonal changes in determining community composition. Seasonal variability was detected across an annual cycle in the river, estuary and plume where communities separated into two groups, early year (April–July) and late year (August–Nov), demonstrating annual reassembly of communities over time. Determining both the spatial and temporal variability of bacterioplankton communities provides a framework for modeling these communities across environmental gradients from river to deep ocean.
coastal ocean; Columbia River; gradient; spatial variability; 16S amplicon pyrosequencing; temporal variability
Coastal microbial mats are small-scale and largely closed ecosystems in which a plethora of different functional groups of microorganisms are responsible for the biogeochemical cycling of the elements. Coastal microbial mats play an important role in coastal protection and morphodynamics through stabilization of the sediments and by initiating the development of salt-marshes. Little is known about the bacterial and especially archaeal diversity and how it contributes to the ecological functioning of coastal microbial mats. Here, we analyzed three different types of coastal microbial mats that are located along a tidal gradient and can be characterized as marine (ST2), brackish (ST3) and freshwater (ST3) systems. The mats were sampled during three different seasons and subjected to massive parallel tag sequencing of the V6 region of the 16S rRNA genes of Bacteria and Archaea. Sequence analysis revealed that the mats are among the most diverse marine ecosystems studied so far and consist of several novel taxonomic levels ranging from classes to species. The diversity between the different mat types was far more pronounced than the changes between the different seasons at one location. The archaeal community for these mats have not been studied before and revealed a strong reaction on a short period of draught during summer resulting in a massive increase in halobacterial sequences, whereas the bacterial community was barely affected. We concluded that the community composition and the microbial diversity were intrinsic of the mat type and depend on the location along the tidal gradient indicating a relation with salinity.
microbial diversity; microbial mats; 16S tag sequencing
Striped bass (Morone saxatilis) in the Chesapeake Bay are currently experiencing a very high prevalence of mycobacteriosis associated with newly described Mycobacterium species, Mycobacterium pseudoshottsii and M. shottsii. The ecology of these mycobacteria outside the striped bass host is currently unknown. In this work, we developed quantitative real-time PCR assays for M. pseudoshottsii and M. shottsii and applied these assays to DNA extracts from Chesapeake Bay water and sediment samples, as well as to tissues from two dominant prey of striped bass, Atlantic menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus) and bay anchovy (Anchoa mitchilli). Mycobacterium pseudoshottsii was found to be ubiquitous in water samples from the main stem of the Chesapeake Bay and was also present in water and sediments from the Rappahannock River, Virginia. M. pseudoshottsii was also detected in menhaden and anchovy tissues. In contrast, M. shottsii was not detected in water, sediment, or prey fish tissues. In conjunction with its nonpigmented phenotype, which is frequently found in obligately pathogenic mycobacteria of humans, this pattern of occurrence suggests that M. shottsii may be an obligate pathogen of striped bass.
Innovative research relating oceans and human health is advancing our understanding of disease-causing organisms in coastal ecosystems. Novel techniques are elucidating the loading, transport and fate of pathogens in coastal ecosystems, and identifying sources of contamination. This research is facilitating improved risk assessments for seafood consumers and those who use the oceans for recreation. A number of challenges still remain and define future directions of research and public policy. Sample processing and molecular detection techniques need to be advanced to allow rapid and specific identification of microbes of public health concern from complex environmental samples. Water quality standards need to be updated to more accurately reflect health risks and to provide managers with improved tools for decision-making. Greater discrimination of virulent versus harmless microbes is needed to identify environmental reservoirs of pathogens and factors leading to human infections. Investigations must include examination of microbial community dynamics that may be important from a human health perspective. Further research is needed to evaluate the ecology of non-enteric water-transmitted diseases. Sentinels should also be established and monitored, providing early warning of dangers to ecosystem health. Taken together, this effort will provide more reliable information about public health risks associated with beaches and seafood consumption, and how human activities can affect their exposure to disease-causing organisms from the oceans.
Oil spills represent a major environmental threat to coastal wetlands, which provide a variety of critical ecosystem services to humanity. The U.S. Gulf of Mexico is a hub of oil and gas exploration activities that historically have impacted intertidal habitats such as salt marsh. Following the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, we sampled the terrestrial arthropod community and marine invertebrates found in stands of Spartina alterniflora, the most abundant plant in coastal salt marshes. Sampling occurred in 2010 as oil was washing ashore and a year later in 2011. In 2010, intertidal crabs and terrestrial arthropods (insects and spiders) were suppressed by oil exposure even in seemingly unaffected stands of plants; however, Littoraria snails were unaffected. One year later, crab and arthropods had largely recovered. Our work is the first attempt that we know of assessing vulnerability of the salt marsh arthropod community to oil exposure, and it suggests that arthropods are both quite vulnerable to oil exposure and quite resilient, able to recover from exposure within a year if host plants remain healthy.
Population growth, trophic level, and some aspects of reproductive biology of two congeneric archer fish species, Toxotes chatareus and Toxotes jaculatrix, collected from Johor coastal waters, Malaysia, were studied. Growth pattern by length-weight relationship (W=aLb) for the sexes differed, and exhibited positive allometric growth (male, female and combined sexes of T. chatareus; female and combined sexes of T. jaculatrix) and isometric growth (male samples of T. jaculatrix only). Trophic levels of both species were analyzed based on 128 specimens. The results show that, in both species, crustaceans and insects were the most abundant prey items, and among crustaceans the red clawed crab Sesarma bidens and Formicidae family insects were the most represented taxa. The estimated mean trophic levels for T. chatareus and T. jaculatrix were 3.422±0.009 and 3.420±0.020, respectively, indicating that they are largely carnivores. Fecundity of T. chatareus ranged from 38 354 to 147 185 eggs for females with total length ranging from 14.5 to 22.5 cm and total body weight from 48.7 to 270.2 g, and T. jaculatrix 25 251 to 150 456 eggs for females with total length ranging from 12.2 to 23.0 cm and total body weight from 25.7 to 275.0 g. Differences in values of gonadosomatic and hepatosomatic indexes calculated for both species in this study may have resulted from uneven sample size ranges.
Archer fish; Toxotidae; Mangrove; Estuary; Predator; Growth; Reproduction
Methanogenesis may represent a key process in the terminal phases of anaerobic organic matter mineralization in sediments of coastal lagoons. The aim of the present work was to study the temporal and spatial dynamics of methanogenic archaea in sediments of tropical coastal lagoons and their relationship with environmental changes in order to determine how these influence methanogenic community. Sediment samples were collected during the dry (February, May, and early June) and rainy seasons (July, October, and November). Microbiological analysis included the quantification of viable methanogenic archaea (MA) with three substrates and the evaluation of kinetic activity from acetate in the presence and absence of sulfate. The environmental variables assessed were temperature, pH, Eh, salinity, sulfate, solids content, organic carbon, and carbohydrates. MA abundance was significantly higher in the rainy season (106–107 cells/g) compared with the dry season (104–106 cells/g), with methanol as an important substrate. At spatial level, MA were detected in the two layers analyzed, and no important variations were observed either in MA abundance or activity. Salinity, sulfate, solids, organic carbon, and Eh were the environmental variables related to methanogenic community. A conceptual model is proposed to explain the dynamics of the MA.
Vibrio cholerae consists of pathogenic strains that cause sporadic gastrointestinal illness or epidemic cholera disease and nonpathogenic strains that grow and persist in coastal aquatic ecosystems. Previous studies of disease-causing strains have shown V. cholerae to be a primarily clonal bacterial species, but isolates analyzed have been strongly biased toward pathogenic genotypes, while representing only a small sample of the vast diversity in environmental strains. In this study, we characterized homologous recombination and structure among 152 environmental V. cholerae isolates and 13 other putative Vibrio isolates from coastal waters and sediments in central California, as well as four clinical V. cholerae isolates, using multilocus sequence analysis of seven housekeeping genes. Recombinant regions were identified by at least three detection methods in 72% of our V. cholerae isolates. Despite frequent recombination, significant linkage disequilibrium was still detected among the V. cholerae sequence types. Incongruent but nonrandom associations were observed for maximum likelihood topologies from the individual loci. Overall, our estimated recombination rate in V. cholerae of 6.5 times the mutation rate is similar to those of other sexual bacteria and appears frequently enough to restrict selection from purging much of the neutral intraspecies diversity. These data suggest that frequent recombination among V. cholerae may hinder the identification of ecotypes in this bacterioplankton population.
Bacteria belonging to the Roseobacter clade of the α-Proteobacteria occupy a wide range of environmental niches and are numerically abundant in coastal waters. Here we reveal that Roseobacter-like bacteria may play a previously unrecognized role in the oxidation and cycling of manganese (Mn) in coastal waters. A diverse array of Mn(II)-oxidizing Roseobacter-like species were isolated from Elkhorn Slough, a coastal estuary adjacent to Monterey Bay in California. One isolate (designated AzwK-3b), in particular, rapidly oxidizes Mn(II) to insoluble Mn(III, IV) oxides. Interestingly, AzwK-3b is 100% identical (at the 16S rRNA gene level) to a previously described Pfiesteria-associated Roseobacter-like bacterium, which is not able to oxidize Mn(II). The rates of manganese(II) oxidation by live cultures and cell-free filtrates are substantially higher when the preparations are incubated in the presence of light. The rates of oxidation by washed cell extracts, however, are light independent. Thus, AzwK-3b invokes two Mn(II) oxidation mechanisms when it is incubated in the presence of light, in contrast to the predominantly direct enzymatic oxidation in the dark. In the presence of light, production of photochemically active metabolites is coupled with initial direct enzymatic Mn(II) oxidation, resulting in higher Mn(II) oxidation rates. Thus, Roseobacter-like bacteria may not only play a previously unrecognized role in Mn(II) oxidation and cycling in coastal surface waters but also induce a novel photooxidation pathway that provides an alternative means of Mn(II) oxidation in the photic zone.
The hemolymph of 290 freshly collected blue crabs from Chincoteague Bay, Va., was sampled over a 15-month period from August 1968 through November 1969 and most probable numbers of bacteria were determined by tube dilution. The hemolymph of 18% of all crabs sampled was found to be sterile, with 16% sterility in summer and 23% in winter samples. Despite individual variations, male crabs as a group had a higher bacterial hemolymph burden than females, and among both sexes summer counts were higher than winter. The hemolymph of crabs with missing appendages had significantly higher counts than uninjured crabs. The annual mean hemolymph most probable numbers per ml was 2,756 for males, 1,300 for females, and 1,876 for both sexes. The higher bacterial levels found in the hemolymph of male crabs may, in part, be explained by the fact that males, which predominated in the summer samples, had a higher incidence of injury and missing appendages than did females.