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Shifts in the seagrass leaf microbiome associated with wasting disease in Zostera muelleri

journal contribution
posted on 2021-08-01, 00:00 authored by Valentina Hurtado McCormick, D Krix, B Tschitschko, N Siboni, P J Ralph, J R Seymour

Seagrass wasting disease (SWD), an infection believed to be caused by Labyrinthula zosterae, has been linked to seagrass declines in several places around the world. However, there is uncertainty about the mechanisms of disease and the potential involvement of opportunistic colonising microorganisms. Using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing, we compared the microbiome of SWD lesions in leaves of Zostera muelleri with communities in adjacent asymptomatic tissues and healthy leaves. The microbiome of healthy leaf tissues was dominated by Pseudomonas and Burkholderia, whereas the most predominant taxa within adjacent tissues were Pseudomonas and Rubidimonas. Members of the Saprospiraceae, potential macroalgal pathogens, were over-represented within SWD lesions. These pronounced changes in microbiome structure were also apparent when we examined the core microbiome of different tissue types. Although the core microbiome associated with healthy leaves included three operational taxonomic units (OTUs) classified as Burkholderia, Cryomorphaceae and the SAR11 clade, a single core OTU from the Arenicella was found within adjacent tissues. Burkholderia are diazotrophic microorganisms and may play an important role in seagrass nitrogen acquisition. In contrast, some members of the Arenicella have been implicated in necrotic disease in other benthic animals. Moreover, microbiome structure was maintained across sites within healthy tissues, but not within SWD lesions or the tissues immediately adjacent to lesions. Predicted functional profiles revealed increased photoautotrophic functions in SWD tissues relative to healthy leaves, but no increase in pathogenicity or virulence. Notably, we demonstrated the presence of L. zosterae in SWD lesions by polymerase chain reaction, but only in one of the two sampled locations, which indicates that other microbiological factors may be involved in the initiation or development of SWD-like symptoms. This study suggests that the dynamics of the seagrass microbiome should be considered within the diagnosis and management of SWD.

History

Journal

Marine and Freshwater Research

Volume

72

Issue

9

Pagination

1303 - 1320

Publisher

CSIRO PUBLISHING

ISSN

1323-1650

eISSN

1448-6059

Language

English

Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

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