89 Effects of Reduced Seawater pH and Oil Contamination on Bacterial Communities and Biochemical Markers of Estuarine Animal Hosts

Louvado A., Galhano V., Lima F., Cleary D.F.R., Lopes I., Gomes N.C.M., Coelho F.J.R.C. (2024) Environments – MDPI, 11 (2), art. no. 37   DOI: 10.3390/environments11020037

ABSTRACT: Ecosystem functioning depends on complex interactions between microorganisms, hosts, and the environment. Changes in environmental conditions (e.g., ocean acidification) in combination with anthropogenic pollution have been shown to affect the composition and function of free-living microbial communities, but little is known about the effects these stressors on host-associated communities. This study aims to characterize the response of host-associated bacterial communities of the bottom-dwelling polychaete Hediste diversicolor and the epibenthic gastropod Peringia ulvae to oil contamination and reduced seawater pH. The independent and interactive effects of both stressors were simulated under controlled conditions. The response of host-associated bacterial communities was assessed using the high-throughput sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene and several biochemical markers related to host metabolic pathways, e.g., neurotransmission, anaerobic metabolism, biotransformation, oxidative stress, and energy consumption. In H. diversicolor, reduced seawater pH was associated with a high relative abundance of Cyanobacteria, while in P. ulvae oil contamination was associated with a reduction in the relative abundance of Chitinophagales. In P. ulvae, enrichment with oil hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria suggests a possible role of these organisms in the dispersion of oil hydrocarbon degraders. Furthermore, oil supplementation shifted some specific biochemical markers of gastropods related to oxidative stress and energy consumption, which suggests host stress. In general, the bacterial communities and biochemical markers of the gastropod were more affected by stressors than those of the polychaete. Overall, this study contributes to a better understanding of the response of host-associated bacterial communities of benthic macrofauna to anthropogenic contamination and environmental change. 

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