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1.  Variation in spatial and temporal incidence of the crustacean pathogen Hematodinium perezi in environmental samples from Atlantic Coastal Bays 
Aquatic Biosystems  2013;9:11.
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.
PMCID: PMC3651331  PMID: 23641869
Blue crab; Hematodinium; Parasite; Disease reservoir; Fishery
2.  New Host Range for Hematodinium in Southern Australia and Novel Tools for Sensitive Detection of Parasitic Dinoflagellates 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82774.
Hematodinium is a parasitic dinoflagellate and emerging pathogen of crustaceans. It preferably manifests in haemolymph of marine decapod crustaceans, killing a large variety of genera with significant impacts on fisheries worldwide. There is, however, evidence that some crustacean stocks harbor high prevalence, low intensity infections that may not result in widespread host mortality and are therefore hard to detect. The most widely used methods for detection of Hematodinium are conventional blood smears and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) against ribosomal RNAs. Blood smears demand a trained investigator, are labor intensive and not readily scalable for high-throughput sampling. PCRs only detect parasite DNA and can also suffer from false negatives and positives. In order to develop alternative detection tools for Hematodinium cells in decapod crustaceans we employed an immunological approach against a newly identified, abundant dinoflagellate-specific nuclear protein—Dinoflagellate/Viral NucleoProtein (DVNP). Both immunofluorescence assay (IFA) and Western blot methods against DVNP showed high sensitivity of detection. The Western blot detects Hematodinium parasites to levels of 25 parasites per milliliter of crustacean haemolymph, with the potential for sample pooling and screening of large samples. Using both PCR and these new tools, we have identified Hematodinium cells present in three new host crab taxa, at high prevalence but with no sign of pathogenesis. This extends the known range of Hematodinium to southern Australia.
PMCID: PMC3855790  PMID: 24324829
3.  Characterization and Molecular Epidemiology of a Fungal Infection of Edible Crabs (Cancer pagurus) and Interaction of the Fungus with the Dinoflagellate Parasite Hematodinium 
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.
PMCID: PMC3568540  PMID: 23160130
4.  Development of a Denaturing High-Performance Liquid Chromatography Method for Detection of Protist Parasites of Metazoans▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2008;74(14):4336-4345.
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.
PMCID: PMC2493188  PMID: 18502933
5.  Hematodinium sp. and its bacteria-like endosymbiont in European brown shrimp (Crangon crangon) 
Aquatic Biosystems  2012;8:24.
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.
PMCID: PMC3487949  PMID: 22958655
ITS1; Phylogenetics; Dinoflagellate; Bacteria; Crustacean; Disease; Fishery
6.  Detection and Discovery of Crustacean Parasites in Blue Crabs (Callinectes sapidus) by Using 18S rRNA Gene-Targeted Denaturing High-Performance Liquid Chromatography▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2008;74(14):4346-4353.
Recently, we described a novel denaturing high-performance liquid chromatography (DHPLC) approach useful for initial detection and identification of crustacean parasites. Because this approach utilizes general primers targeted to conserved regions of the 18S rRNA gene, a priori genetic sequence information on eukaryotic parasites is not required. This distinction provides a significant advantage over specifically targeted PCR assays that do not allow for the detection of unknown or unsuspected parasites. However, initial field evaluations of the DHPLC assay suggested that because of PCR-biased amplification of dominant host genes it was not possible to detect relatively rare parasite genes in infected crab tissue. Here, we describe the use of a peptide nucleic acid (PNA) PCR hybridization blocking probe in association with DHPLC (PNA-PCR DHPLC) to overcome inherent PCR bias associated with amplification of rare target genes by use of generic primers. This approach was utilized to detect infection of blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus) by the parasitic dinoflagellate Hematodinium sp. Evaluation of 76 crabs caught in Wassaw Sound, GA, indicated a 97% correspondence between detection of the parasite by use of a specific PCR diagnostic assay and that by use of PNA-PCR DHPLC. During these studies, we discovered one crab with an association with a previously undescribed protist symbiont. Phylogenetic analysis of the amplified symbiont 18S rRNA gene indicated that it is most closely related to the free-living kinetoplastid parasite Procryptobia sorokini. To our knowledge, this is the first report of this parasite group in a decapod crab and of this organism exhibiting a presumably parasitic life history.
PMCID: PMC2493178  PMID: 18502913
7.  Environmental Gradient Favours Functionally Diverse Macrobenthic Community in a Placer Rich Tropical Bay 
The Scientific World Journal  2013;2013:750580.
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.
PMCID: PMC3703323  PMID: 23853540
8.  Influence of Environmental Gradients on the Abundance and Distribution of Mycobacterium spp. in a Coastal Lagoon Estuary▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2009;75(23):7378-7384.
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.
PMCID: PMC2786408  PMID: 19801457
9.  Shifts in the Microbial Community Composition of Gulf Coast Beaches Following Beach Oiling 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74265.
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.
PMCID: PMC3769389  PMID: 24040219
10.  Spatial and Temporal Distribution of Two Diazotrophic Bacteria in the Chesapeake Bay 
The aim of this study was to initiate autecological studies on uncultivated natural populations of diazotrophic bacteria by examining the distribution of specific diazotrophs in the Chesapeake Bay. By use of quantitative PCR, the abundance of two nifH sequences (907h22 and 912h4) was quantified in water samples collected along a transect from the head to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay during cruises in April and October 2001 and 2002. Standard curves for the quantitative PCR assays demonstrated that the relationship between gene copies and cycle threshold was linear and highly reproducible from 1 to 107 gene copies. The maximum number of 907h22 gene copies detected was approximately 140 ml−1 and the maximum number of 912h4 gene copies detected was approximately 340 ml−1. Sequence 912h4 was most abundant at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, and in general, its abundance increased with increasing salinity, with the highest abundances observed in April 2002. Overall, the 907h22 phylotype was most abundant at the mid-bay station. Additionally, 907h22 was most abundant in the April samples from the mid-bay and mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Despite the fact that the Chesapeake Bay is rarely nitrogen limited, our results show that individual nitrogen-fixing bacteria have distinct nonrandom spatial and seasonal distributions in the Chesapeake Bay and are either distributed by specific physical processes or adapted to different environmental niches.
PMCID: PMC383158  PMID: 15066812
11.  Seagrass Restoration Enhances “Blue Carbon” Sequestration in Coastal Waters 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72469.
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.
PMCID: PMC3743776  PMID: 23967303
12.  Investigation of Spatial and Temporal Trends in Water Quality in Daya Bay, South China Sea 
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.
PMCID: PMC3138029  PMID: 21776234
Daya Bay; principal component analysis; multidimensional scaling analysis; statistical techniques; water quality
13.  Seasonal Detection of Human Viruses and Coliphage in Newport Bay, California▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2007;73(20):6468-6474.
Recent studies have shown that the fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) currently used to indicate water quality in the coastal environment may be inadequate to reflect human viral contamination. Coliphage was suggested as a better indicator of human viral pollution and was proposed by the U.S. EPA as an alternative indicator for fecal pollution in groundwater. In this study, we investigated the occurrence and distribution of FIB, F+ coliphage, and PCR-detectable human adenovirus and enterovirus for an entire year at 15 locations around the Newport Bay watershed, an important southern California estuary for water recreation and an ecological reserve. Peak concentrations and prevalences of FIB and F+ coliphage were associated with winter storms (wet weather). Human adenoviruses and enteroviruses, however, were detected by PCR in ∼5% of samples collected in the summer (dry weather) but only once in wet weather. These results demonstrated that FIB and coliphage have similar seasonal and freshwater-to-saltwater distribution patterns, while the detection of human viruses depends on a distribution pattern that is the opposite of that of FIB and coliphage. This research suggested that coliphage and FIB share similar environmental sources, while sources of human viruses in Newport Bay are perhaps different.
PMCID: PMC2075071  PMID: 17720839
14.  Diversity, abundance and expression of nitrite reductase (nirK)-like genes in marine thaumarchaea 
The ISME Journal  2012;6(10):1966-1977.
Ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) are widespread and abundant in aquatic and terrestrial habitats and appear to have a significant impact on the global nitrogen cycle. Like the ammonia-oxidizing bacteria, AOA encode a gene homologous to copper-containing nitrite reductases (nirK), which has been studied very little to date. In this study, the diversity, abundance and expression of thaumarchaeal nirK genes from coastal and marine environments were investigated using two mutually excluding primer pairs, which amplify the nirK variants designated as AnirKa and AnirKb. Only the AnirKa variant could be detected in sediment samples from San Francisco Bay and these sequences grouped with the nirK from Candidatus Nitrosopumilus maritimus and Candidatus Nitrosoarchaeum limnia. The two nirK variants had contrasting distributions in the water column in Monterey Bay and the California Current. AnirKa was more abundant in the epi- to mesopelagic Monterey Bay water column, whereas AnirKb was more abundant in the meso- to bathypelagic California Current water. The abundance and community composition of AnirKb, but not AnirKa, followed that of thaumarchaeal amoA, suggesting that either AnirKa is not exclusively associated with AOA or that commonly used amoA primers may be missing a significant fraction of AOA diversity in the epipelagic. Interestingly, thaumarchaeal nirK was expressed 10–100-fold more than amoA in Monterey Bay. Overall, this study provides valuable new insights into the distribution, diversity, abundance and expression of this alternative molecular marker for AOA in the ocean.
PMCID: PMC3446794  PMID: 22592819
ammonia-oxidizing archaea; copper-containing nitrite reductase; Monterey Bay time series; nirK; thaumarchaea
15.  Restoring Eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) Habitats Using a Simple and Effective Transplanting Technique 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e92982.
Eelgrass beds in coastal waters of China have declined substantially over the past 30 years. In this study, a simple new transplanting technique was developed for eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) restoration. To assist in anchoring single shoots, several rhizomes of rooted shoots were bound to a small elongate stone (50–150 g) with biodegradable thread (cotton or hemp), and then the bound packet was buried at an angle in the sediments at a depth of 2–4 cm. This stone anchoring method was used to transplant eelgrass in early November 2009 and late May 2010 in Huiquan Bay, Qingdao. The method led to high success. Three month survivorship of the transplanted shoots at the two transplant sites was >95%. From April 20 to November 19, 2012, the following characteristics of the 2009 and 2010 transplanted eelgrass beds were monitored: morphological changes, shoot density, shoot height, leaf biomass, and sediment particle size. Results showed that the sexual reproduction period of the planted eelgrass was from April to August, and vegetative reproduction reached its peak in autumn. Maximum shoot height and biomass were observed in June and July. After becoming established, the transplanted eelgrass beds were statistically equal to natural eelgrass beds nearby in terms of shoot height, biomass, and seasonal variations. This indicates that the transplant technique is effective for eelgrass restoration in coastal waters.
PMCID: PMC3973628  PMID: 24695414
16.  The Mitochondrial Genome and Transcriptome of the Basal Dinoflagellate Hematodinium sp.: Character Evolution within the Highly Derived Mitochondrial Genomes of Dinoflagellates 
Genome Biology and Evolution  2011;4(1):59-72.
The sister phyla dinoflagellates and apicomplexans inherited a drastically reduced mitochondrial genome (mitochondrial DNA, mtDNA) containing only three protein-coding (cob, cox1, and cox3) genes and two ribosomal RNA (rRNA) genes. In apicomplexans, single copies of these genes are encoded on the smallest known mtDNA chromosome (6 kb). In dinoflagellates, however, the genome has undergone further substantial modifications, including massive genome amplification and recombination resulting in multiple copies of each gene and gene fragments linked in numerous combinations. Furthermore, protein-encoding genes have lost standard stop codons, trans-splicing of messenger RNAs (mRNAs) is required to generate complete cox3 transcripts, and extensive RNA editing recodes most genes. From taxa investigated to date, it is unclear when many of these unusual dinoflagellate mtDNA characters evolved. To address this question, we investigated the mitochondrial genome and transcriptome character states of the deep branching dinoflagellate Hematodinium sp. Genomic data show that like later-branching dinoflagellates Hematodinium sp. also contains an inflated, heavily recombined genome of multicopy genes and gene fragments. Although stop codons are also lacking for cox1 and cob, cox3 still encodes a conventional stop codon. Extensive editing of mRNAs also occurs in Hematodinium sp. The mtDNA of basal dinoflagellate Hematodinium sp. indicates that much of the mtDNA modification in dinoflagellates occurred early in this lineage, including genome amplification and recombination, and decreased use of standard stop codons. Trans-splicing, on the other hand, occurred after Hematodinium sp. diverged. Only RNA editing presents a nonlinear pattern of evolution in dinoflagellates as this process occurs in Hematodinium sp. but is absent in some later-branching taxa indicating that this process was either lost in some lineages or developed more than once during the evolution of the highly unusual dinoflagellate mtDNA.
PMCID: PMC3268668  PMID: 22113794
mitochondrion; Apicomplexa; RNA editing; organelle genome
17.  Influence of Water Temperature and Salinity on Vibrio vulnificus in Northern Gulf and Atlantic Coast Oysters (Crassostrea virginica) 
This study investigated the temperature and salinity parameters associated with waters and oysters linked to food-borne Vibrio vulnificus infections. V. vulnificus was enumerated in oysters collected at three northern Gulf Coast sites and two Atlantic Coast sites from July 1994 through September 1995. Two of these sites, Black Bay, La., and Apalachicola Bay, Fla., are the source of the majority of the oysters implicated in V. vulnificus cases. Oysters in all Gulf Coast sites exhibited a similar seasonal distribution of V. vulnificus: a consistently large number (median concentration, 2,300 organisms [most probable number] per g of oyster meat) from May through October followed by a gradual reduction during November and December to ≤10 per g, where it remained from January through mid-March, and a sharp increase in late March and April to summer levels. V. vulnificus was undetectable (<3 per g) in oysters from the North and South Carolina sites for most of the year. An exception occurred when a late-summer flood caused a drop in salinity in the North Carolina estuary, apparently causing V. vulnificus numbers to increase briefly to Gulf Coast levels. At Gulf Coast sites, V. vulnificus numbers increased with water temperatures up to 26°C and were constant at higher temperatures. High V. vulnificus levels (>103 per g) were typically found in oysters from intermediate salinities (5 to 25 ppt). Smaller V. vulnificus numbers (<102 per g) were found at salinities above 28 ppt, typical of Atlantic Coast sites. On 11 occasions oysters were sampled at times and locations near the source of oysters implicated in 13 V. vulnificus cases; the V. vulnificus levels and environmental parameters associated with these samples were consistent with those of other study samples collected from the Gulf Coast from April through November. These findings suggest that the hazard of V. vulnificus infection is not limited to brief periods of unusual abundance of V. vulnificus in Gulf Coast oysters or to environmental conditions that are unusual to Gulf Coast estuaries.
PMCID: PMC106170  PMID: 9546182
18.  Characterization of the rRNA Locus of Pfiesteria piscicida and Development of Standard and Quantitative PCR-Based Detection Assays Targeted to the Nontranscribed Spacer 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2002;68(11):5394-5407.
Pfiesteria piscicida is a heterotrophic dinoflagellate widely distributed along the middle Atlantic shore of the United States and associated with fish kills in the Neuse River (North Carolina) and the Chesapeake Bay (Maryland and Virginia). We constructed a genomic DNA library from clonally cultured P. piscicida and characterized the nontranscribed spacer (NTS), small subunit, internal transcribed spacer 1 (ITS1), 5.8S region, ITS2, and large subunit of the rRNA gene cluster. Based on the P. piscicida ribosomal DNA sequence, we developed a PCR-based detection assay that targets the NTS. The assay specificity was assessed by testing clonal P. piscicida and Pfiesteria shumwayae, 35 additional dinoflagellate species, and algal prey (Rhodomonas sp.). Only P. piscicida and nine presumptive P. piscicida isolates tested positive. All PCR-positive products yielded identical sequences for P. piscicida, suggesting that the PCR-based assay is species specific. The assay can detect a single P. piscicida zoospore in 1 ml of water, 10 resting cysts in 1 g of sediment, or 10 fg of P. piscicida DNA in 1 μg of heterologous DNA. An internal standard for the PCR assay was constructed to identify potential false-negative results in testing of environmental sediment and water samples and as a competitor for the development of a quantitative competitive PCR assay format. The specificities of both qualitative and quantitative PCR assay formats were validated with >200 environmental samples, and the assays provide simple, rapid, and accurate methods for the assessment of P. piscicida in water and sediments.
PMCID: PMC129931  PMID: 12406730
19.  Incidence of Vibrio parahaemolyticus in Chesapeake Bay 
Applied Microbiology  1975;30(2):251-257.
A Bay-wide survey of the distribution of Vibrio parahaemolyticus was carried out in Chesapeake Bay during May 1972, to determine whether the annual cycle of V. parahaemolyticus which was observed to occur in the Rhode River subestuary of Chesapeake Bay took place in other parts of Chesapeake Bay. In an earlier study, April to early June, when the water temperature rises from 14 to 19 C, was found to be a critical period in the annual cycle of the organism in the Rhode River, since this is the time period when the annual cycle is initiated. Results of this study, however, revealed that V. parahaemolyticus could not be found in the water column during May 1972. Neverthless, several samples of sediment and plankton yielded V. parahaemolyticus isolates. Comparison of data with those for the Rhode River area examined in the earlier studies of the annual cycle of V. parahaemolyticus suggests that the time of initiation of the annual cycle of V. parahaemolyticus in the open Bay proper may be influenced by various factors such as temperature and salinity, i.e., deeper water locations may show initiation of the V. parahaemolyticus annual cycle later than shallow areas. Confirmation of the presence of the organism in the samples studied was accomplished using numerical taxonomy with 19 reference strains also included in the analyses.
PMCID: PMC187162  PMID: 1164012
20.  Variation in Microbial Biomass and Community Structure in Sediments of Eutrophic Bays as Determined by Phospholipid Ester-Linked Fatty Acids 
The distribution of phospholipid ester-linked fatty acids (PLFA) in sediments of eutrophic bays (Hiroshima Bay and Aki Nada) was studied to quantify the microbial biomass, community structure, and nutritional status. A total of 63 fatty acids in the range of C10 to C24 were determined. They consist of saturated fatty acids, branched fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, and polyunsaturated fatty acids, and variation was revealed in the relative proportions of these fatty acids in sediments. On the basis of the PLFA concentration in sediments, the calculated microbial biomass showed variation (mean ± standard deviation = 0.70 × 108 ± 0.53 × 108 cells per g [dry weight] of sediment) in the eutrophic bays. In sediments, a higher amount of biomass was observed in the coastal area of Hiroshima Bay than that observed in the rest of the bay and adjacent Aki Nada. The microbial community structure of the present study area, as characterized by the PLFA profiles, showed very low percentages of polyunsaturated fatty acids and long-chain fatty acids characteristic of microeukary-otes and terrestrial input, respectively, and high percentages of fatty acids characteristic of bacteria. The distribution of PLFA profiles also showed the relative contribution of both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, especially sulfate-reducing bacteria, in the study area. The relative proportions of PLFA revealed distinctive differences among the stations of the study area, as is evidenced from six clusters obtained for the PLFA profiles. The results of Tukey's honestly significant difference test further confirmed that the sediments in the coastal area of Hiroshima Bay were significantly enriched by a number of fatty acids when compared with other areas investigated where relatively few fatty acids were present in significant quantities. No marked variation in environmental parameters in the surface- and bottom-water samples was observed, indicating the absence of any water movement in the study area. Furthermore, low redox potential and the levels of sulfide in the sediment revealed the reduced condition of the sediment. The existing environmental conditions and pollution of the study area were attributed to the observed microbial community structure in the sediments.
PMCID: PMC195285  PMID: 16348645
21.  Comparison of Fluorescently Labeled Oligonucleotide and Polynucleotide Probes for the Detection of Pelagic Marine Bacteria and Archaea 
We compared the detection of bacteria and archaea in the coastal North Sea and at Monterey Bay, Calif., after fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) either with rRNA-targeted oligonucleotide probes monolabeled with the cyanin dye Cy3 (oligoFISH) or with fluorescein-labeled polyribonucleotide probes (polyFISH). During an annual cycle in German Bight surface waters, the percentages of bacteria visualized by polyFISH (annual mean, 77% of total counts) were significantly higher than those detected by oligoFISH (53%). The fraction of total bacteria visualized by oligoFISH declined during winter, whereas cell numbers determined by polyFISH remained constant throughout the year. Depth profiles from Monterey Bay showed large differences in the fraction of bacterial cells visualized by polyFISH and oligoFISH in the deeper water layers irrespective of the season. Image-analyzed microscopy indicated that the superior detection of cells by polyFISH with fluorescein-labeled probes in bacterioplankton samples was less a consequence of higher absolute fluorescence intensities but was rather related to quasi-linear bleaching dynamics and to a higher signal-to-background ratio. The relative abundances of archaea in North Sea and Monterey Bay spring samples as determined by oligoFISH were on average higher than those determined by polyFISH. However, simultaneous hybridizations with oligonucleotide probes for bacteria and archaea suggested that the oligoFISH probe ARCH915 unspecifically stained a population of bacteria. Using either FISH technique, blooms of archaea were observed in North Sea surface waters during the spring and summer months. Marine group II archaea (Euryarchaeota) reached >30% of total picoplankton abundances, as determined by polyFISH. We suggest that studies of pelagic microbial community structure using oligoFISH with monolabeled probes should focus on environments that yield detections ≥70% of total cell counts, e.g., coastal surface waters during spring and summer.
PMCID: PMC126737  PMID: 11823205
22.  Ecology of Vibrio parahaemolyticus in Chesapeake Bay 
Journal of Bacteriology  1973;113(1):24-32.
A study of the ecology of Vibrio parahaemolyticus and related vibrios in the Rhode River area of Chesapeake Bay was carried out over the period December 1970 through August 1971. The incidence of V. parahaemolyticus and related vibrios was found to be correlated with water temperature. The vibrios could not be detected in the water column during the winter months, although they were present in sediment. From late spring to early summer, when water temperatures were 14 ± 1 C, vibrios over-wintering in sediment were released from the bottom communities and attached to zooplankton, proliferating as the temperature rose. The number of vibrios in and on plankton was reflected in the water column bacterial population densities at water temperatures of ca. 19 C. Thus, temperature of the water column in the range of 14 to 19 C was found to be critical in the annual cycle of the vibrios. Interaction between sediment, water, and zooplankton was found to be essential in the natural estuarine ecosystem. Bacterial counts of zooplankton were found to be temperature dependent. The bacterial population associated with zooplankton was found to be predominantly on external surfaces and was specific, differing from that of the sediment. Vibrio spp. and related organisms comprised the total bacterial population associated with zooplankton in summer months. The ecological role of Vibrio spp., including V. parahaemolyticus, was found to be significant, with respect to their property of chitin digestion and in relation to the population dynamics of zooplankton in Chesapeake Bay.
PMCID: PMC251597  PMID: 4567138
23.  Seasonal Changes in Bacterial and Archaeal Gene Expression Patterns across Salinity Gradients in the Columbia River Coastal Margin 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13312.
Through their metabolic activities, microbial populations mediate the impact of high gradient regions on ecological function and productivity of the highly dynamic Columbia River coastal margin (CRCM). A 2226-probe oligonucleotide DNA microarray was developed to investigate expression patterns for microbial genes involved in nitrogen and carbon metabolism in the CRCM. Initial experiments with the environmental microarrays were directed toward validation of the platform and yielded high reproducibility in multiple tests. Bioinformatic and experimental validation also indicated that >85% of the microarray probes were specific for their corresponding target genes and for a few homologs within the same microbial family. The validated probe set was used to query gene expression responses by microbial assemblages to environmental variability. Sixty-four samples from the river, estuary, plume, and adjacent ocean were collected in different seasons and analyzed to correlate the measured variability in chemical, physical and biological water parameters to differences in global gene expression profiles. The method produced robust seasonal profiles corresponding to pre-freshet spring (April) and late summer (August). Overall relative gene expression was high in both seasons and was consistent with high microbial abundance measured by total RNA, heterotrophic bacterial production, and chlorophyll a. Both seasonal patterns involved large numbers of genes that were highly expressed relative to background, yet each produced very different gene expression profiles. April patterns revealed high differential gene expression in the coastal margin samples (estuary, plume and adjacent ocean) relative to freshwater, while little differential gene expression was observed along the river-to-ocean transition in August. Microbial gene expression profiles appeared to relate, in part, to seasonal differences in nutrient availability and potential resource competition. Furthermore, our results suggest that highly-active particle-attached microbiota in the Columbia River water column may perform dissimilatory nitrate reduction (both dentrification and DNRA) within anoxic particle microniches.
PMCID: PMC2954162  PMID: 20967204
24.  Regional-Scale Migrations and Habitat Use of Juvenile Lemon Sharks (Negaprion brevirostris) in the US South Atlantic 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88470.
Resolving the geographic extent and timing of coastal shark migrations, as well as their environmental cues, is essential for refining shark management strategies in anticipation of increasing anthropogenic stressors to coastal ecosystems. We employed a regional-scale passive acoustic telemetry array encompassing 300 km of the east Florida coast to assess what factors influence site fidelity of juvenile lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris) to an exposed coastal nursery at Cape Canaveral, and to document the timing and rate of their seasonal migrations. Movements of 54 juvenile lemon sharks were monitored for three years with individuals tracked for up to 751 days. While most sharks demonstrated site fidelity to the Cape Canaveral region December through February under typical winter water temperatures, historically extreme declines in ocean temperature were accompanied by rapid and often temporary, southward displacements of up to 190 km along the Florida east coast. From late February through April each year, most sharks initiated a northward migration at speeds of up to 64 km day−1 with several individuals then detected in compatible estuarine telemetry arrays in Georgia and South Carolina up to 472 km from release locations. Nineteen sharks returned for a second or even third consecutive winter, thus demonstrating strong seasonal philopatry to the Cape Canaveral region. The long distance movements and habitat associations of immature lemon sharks along the US southeast coast contrast sharply with the natal site fidelity observed in this species at other sites in the western Atlantic Ocean. These findings validate the existing multi-state management strategies now in place. Results also affirm the value of collaborative passive arrays for resolving seasonal movements and habitat preferences of migratory coastal shark species not easily studied with other tagging techniques.
PMCID: PMC3935833  PMID: 24586329
25.  Determining indicator taxa across spatial and seasonal gradients in the Columbia River coastal margin 
The ISME Journal  2013;7(10):1899-1911.
Bacterioplankton communities are deeply diverse and highly variable across space and time, but several recent studies demonstrate repeatable and predictable patterns in this diversity. We expanded on previous studies by determining patterns of variability in both individual taxa and bacterial communities across coastal environmental gradients. We surveyed bacterioplankton diversity across the Columbia River coastal margin, USA, using amplicon pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA genes from 596 water samples collected from 2007 to 2010. Our results showed seasonal shifts and annual reassembly of bacterioplankton communities in the freshwater-influenced Columbia River, estuary, and plume, and identified indicator taxa, including species from freshwater SAR11, Oceanospirillales, and Flavobacteria groups, that characterize the changing seasonal conditions in these environments. In the river and estuary, Actinobacteria and Betaproteobacteria indicator taxa correlated strongly with seasonal fluctuations in particulate organic carbon (ρ=−0.664) and residence time (ρ=0.512), respectively. In contrast, seasonal change in communities was not detected in the coastal ocean and varied more with the spatial variability of environmental factors including temperature and dissolved oxygen. Indicator taxa of coastal ocean environments included SAR406 and SUP05 taxa from the deep ocean, and Prochlorococcus and SAR11 taxa from the upper water column. We found that in the Columbia River coastal margin, freshwater-influenced environments were consistent and predictable, whereas coastal ocean community variability was difficult to interpret due to complex physical conditions. This study moves beyond beta-diversity patterns to focus on the occurrence of specific taxa and lends insight into the potential ecological roles these taxa have in coastal ocean environments.
PMCID: PMC3965310  PMID: 23719153
16S amplicon; biogeographyl; coastal ocean; gradient; indicator

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