Distinct immune responses of juvenile and adult oysters (Crassostrea gigas) to viral and bacterial infections

Since 2008, massive mortality events of Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) have been reported worldwide and these disease events are often associated with Ostreid herpesvirus type 1 (OsHV-1). Epidemiological field studies have also reported oyster age and other pathogens of the Vibrio genus are contributing factors to this syndrome. We undertook a controlled laboratory experiment to simultaneously investigate survival and immunological response of juvenile and adult C. gigas at different time-points post-infection with OsHV-1, Vibrio tasmaniensis LGP32 and V. aestuarianus. Our data corroborates epidemiological studies that juveniles are more susceptible to OsHV-1, whereas adults are more susceptible to Vibrio. We measured the expression of 102 immune-genes by high-throughput RT-qPCR, which revealed oysters have different transcriptional responses to OsHV-1 and Vibrio. The transcriptional response in the early stages of OsHV-1 infection involved genes related to apoptosis and the interferon-pathway. Transcriptional response to Vibrio infection involved antimicrobial peptides, heat shock proteins and galectins. Interestingly, oysters in the later stages of OsHV-1 infection had a transcriptional response that resembled an antibacterial response, which is suggestive of the oyster’s microbiome causing secondary infections (dysbiosis-driven pathology). This study provides molecular evidence that oysters can mount distinct immune response to viral and bacterial pathogens and these responses differ depending on the age of the host.

Timothy J. Green, Agnes Vergnes, Caroline Montagnani, Julien de Lorgeril, Veterinary Research, 2016, 47:72

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