Spatial and Temporal Dynamics of Pacific Oyster Hemolymph Microbiota across Multiple Scales

Unveiling the factors and processes that shape the dynamics of host associated microbial communities (microbiota) under natural conditions is an important part of understanding and predicting an organism's response to a changing environment. The microbiota is shaped by host (i.e., genetic) factors as well as by the biotic and abiotic environment. Studying natural variation of microbial community composition in multiple host genetic backgrounds across spatial as well as temporal scales represents a means to untangle this complex interplay. Here, we combined a spatially-stratified with a longitudinal sampling scheme within differentiated host genetic backgrounds by reciprocally transplanting Pacific oysters between two sites in the Wadden Sea (Sylt and Texel). To further differentiate contingent site from host genetic effects, we repeatedly sampled the same individuals over a summer season to examine structure, diversity and dynamics of individual hemolymph microbiota following experimental removal of resident microbiota by antibiotic treatment. While a large proportion of microbiome variation could be attributed to immediate environmental conditions, we observed persistent effects of antibiotic treatment and translocation suggesting that hemolymph microbial community dynamics is subject to within-microbiome interactions and host population specific factors. In addition, the analysis of spatial variation revealed that the within-site microenvironmental heterogeneity resulted in high small-scale variability, as opposed to large-scale (between-site) stability. Similarly, considerable within-individual temporal variability was in contrast with the overall temporal stability at the site level. Overall, our longitudinal, spatially-stratified sampling design revealed that variation in hemolymph microbiota is strongly influenced by site and immediate environmental conditions, whereas internal microbiome dynamics and oyster-related factors add to their long-term stability. The combination of small and large scale resolution of spatial and temporal observations therefore represents a crucial but underused tool to study host-associated microbiome dynamics.


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