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Abstract:

Marine bacteria of the diverse genus Vibrio consist of over 100 different species. These bacteria can be found in a wide variety of environments, from estuaries to the deep sea. They play an assortment of different ecological roles including mutualistic and pathogenic relationships with aquatic organisms. Twelve Vibrio species are also pathogenic to humans; many of which are known for foodborne diseases. The most notable species of Vibrio are V. cholerae, V. parahaemolyticus, V. vulnificus and V. alginolyticus. Vibrio species are Copiotrophs which prefer warm, brackish water and reflect local environmental conditions. Here, we look at the community composition and diversity of Vibrio species from samples taken at five stations on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. The locations chosen sampled water from different habitats; within a seagrass bed, inside a shipping channel, an oyster reef, within a marsh, and a harbor containing an oyster processing plant where a red tide event was observed at the time of collection. A high throughput amplicon sequencing protocol previously developed for analysis of a pacific oyster mortality event was used to identify species of Vibrio present in water samples. This approach targeted Hsp60, or heat shock protein 60, which is a phylogenetic marker that has been shown to distinguish Vibrios at the species level with more accuracy than other markers. Using this approach we are testing the hypothesis that Vibrio species diversity and the prevalence of pathogenic Vibrio species would increase with proximity to elevated nutrient inputs near the coast and be highest in the harbor.