Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Research Publications: UM-SG-RS-2008-14


Application of molecular tools for the survey of bacterial pathogens associated with Crassostrea virginica (Gmelin 1791) and Crassostrea ariakensis (Fujita 1913).




Alavi, MR; Schott, EJ; Saito, K; Vasta, GR


Journal of Shellfish Research 27(3):551-558




The drastic decline of the eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) in Chesapeake Bay and other estuarine areas along the Atlantic coast of the United States has prompted officials to consider the possibility of introducing the Suminoe oyster Crassostrea ariakensis into these waters. However, the introduction of an exotic oyster species may have unforeseen and potentially harmful effects on the Bay's ecosystem. An important question to be addressed is the potential for the nonnative oyster to become a reservoir for human, fish, and shellfish bacterial pathogens. The purpose of this study is to establish and optimize methodology, and carry out a preliminary screen of C. ariakensis and C. virginica from Chesapeake Bay for the presence of Vibrio parahaemolyticus, V. vulnificus, mycobacteria, and enterobacteria, using cultivation on semiselective media and PCR. In spite of the high prevalence of Vibrio spp. in soft tissues and the shell surface of both oyster species, V. parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus were absent. Coliform enterobacteria were detected in tissues from both oyster species by cultivation in a semiselective medium. In contrast, mycobacteria were not detected in oyster soft tissues by both cultivation and PCR, but they were abundant on the shell surface. Although oysters have been reported to harbor V. cholerae and other Vibrio species as shell biofilm-associated bacteria, this report provides the first direct evidence for the presence of mycobacteria in oyster shell-associated biofilms. Further, this preliminary study revealed no substantial differences between C. virginica from coastal Maine and C. ariakensis from Chesapeake Bay waters concerning selected components of their associated microbial flora.

Related Research Project(s) Funded by Maryland Sea Grant: 

Maryland Sea Grant Topic(s): 

'Related Research Project(s)' link to details about research projects funded by Maryland Sea Grant that led to this publication. These details may include other impacts and accomplishments resulting from the research.

'Maryland Sea Grant Topic(s)' links to related pages on the Maryland Sea Grant website.