Farming intensification and climate change are inevitably linked to pathogen emergence in aquaculture. In this context, infectious diseases associated with vibrios span all developmental stages of the Pacific Oyster Crassostrea gigas. Moreover, virulence factors associated with pathogenicity spread among the vibrio community through horizontal gene transfer as part of the natural eco-evolutive dynamic of this group. Therefore, risk factors associated with the emergence of pathogens should be assessed before the appearance of mass mortalities in developing rearing areas. In this context, we characterized the vibrios community associated with oysters cultured in a non-intensive area free of massive mortalities located at Tongoy bay, Chile, through a culture-dependent approach. We taxonomically affiliated our isolates at the species level through the partial sequencing of the heat shock protein 60 gene and estimated their virulence potential through experimental infection of juvenile C. gigas. The vibrio community belonged almost entirely to the Splendidus clade, with Vibrio lentus being the most abundant species. The virulence potential of selected isolates was highly contrasted with oyster survival ranging between 100 and 30 %. Moreover, different vibrio species affected oyster survival at different rates, for instance V. splendidus TO2_12 produced most mortalities just 24 h after injection, while the V. lentus the most virulent strain TO6_11 produced sustained mortalities reaching 30 % of survival at day 4 after injection. Production of enzymes associated with pathogenicity was detected and hemolytic activity was positive for 50 % of the virulent strains and negative for 90 % of non-virulent strains, representing the phenotype that better relates to the virulence status of strains. Overall, results highlight that virulence is a trait present in the absence of disease expression, and therefore the monitoring of potentially pathogenic groups such as vibrios is essential to anticipate and manage oyster disease emergence in both established and under-development rearing areas.
- Oyster farming
- Splendidus clade