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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania » Eastern Regional Research Center » Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #380721

Research Project: Development of Detection and Intervention Technologies for Bacterial and Viral Pathogens Affecting Shellfish

Location: Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Research

Title: Bacteriophages against Vibrio coralliilyticus and Vibrio tubiashii: Isolation, characterization and remediation of larval oyster mortalities

item Richards, Gary
item Watson, Michael
item MADISON, DAVID - Oregon State University
item SOFFER, NITZAN - Intralytix, Inc
item NEEDLEMAN, DAVID - Retired ARS Employee
item SOROKA, DOUGLAS - Retired ARS Employee
item Uknalis, Joseph
item BARANZONI, GIAN MARCO - Former ARS Employee
item CHURCH, KARLEE - The Hershey Group
item POISON, SHAWN - University Of Delaware
item ELSTON, RALPH - Aquatechnics, Inc
item LANGDON, CHRIS - Oregon State University

Submitted to: Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/24/2021
Publication Date: 4/27/2021
Citation: Richards, G.P., Watson, M.A., Madison, D., Soffer, N., Needleman, D.S., Soroka, D.S., Uknalis, J., Baranzoni, G., Church, K.M., Poison, S.W., Elston, R., Langdon, C., Sulakvelictze, A. 2021. Bacteriophages against Vibrio coralliilyticus and Vibrio tubiashii: Isolation, characterization and remediation of larval oyster mortalities. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 87.

Interpretive Summary: Shellfish hatcheries encounter occasional outbreaks of larval oyster mortalities that can jeopardize the economic stability of the hatcheries and the commercial shellfish industry. Outbreaks are often caused by bacteria , like Vibrio coraliilyticus and Vibrio tubiashii, which have been recognized as major contributors of larval oyster mortalities in U.S. East and West Coast hatcheries for many years. In this study, we identified and characterized bacteriophages (bacterial viruses also known as phages) against these vibrios and demonstrated their ability to reduce mortalities from V. coralliilyticus in larval Pacific oysters and both V. coralliilyticus and V. tubiashii in larval Eastern oysters. A mixture of three phages reduced larval oyster mortalities by up to 91%. Phage therapy offers a promising approach in stimulating hatchery production to ensure the wellbeing of hatcheries and the commercial oyster trade.

Technical Abstract: Vibrio coralliilyticus and Vibrio tubiashii are pathogens responsible for high larval oyster mortalities in shellfish hatcheries. Bacteriophage therapy was evaluated to determine its potential to remediate these mortalities. Sixteen phages against V. coralliilyticus and V. tubiashii were isolated and characterized from Hawaiian seawater. Fourteen isolates were members of the Myoviridae family and two were Siphoviridae. In proof-of-principle trials, a cocktail of five phages reduced mortalities of larval Eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) and Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) by up to 91% at 6 days post-challenge with lethal doses of V. coralliilyticus. Larvae survival depended on the oyster species, the quantity of phages and vibrios applied, and the species and strain of Vibrio. A later-generation cocktail, designated VCP300, was formulated with three lytic phages subsequently named Vibrio phage vB_VcorM-GR7B; vB_VcorM-GR11A, and vB_VcorM-GR28A (abbreviated 7B, 11A and 28A). Together, these three phages displayed host specificity toward eight V. coralliilyticus strains and a V. tubiashii strain. Larval C. gigas mortalities from V. coralliilyticus strains RE98 and OCN008 were significantly reduced by over 90% (P is less than 0.0001) over 6 days with phage treatment compared to untreated controls. Genomic sequencing of phages 7B, 11A and 28A revealed 207,758; 194,800; and 154,046 base pair, linear DNA genomes, respectively, with the latter showing 92% similarity to V. coralliilyticus phage YC, a strain from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Phages 7B and 11A genomes showed little similarity to phages in the NCBI database. This study demonstrates the promising potential for phage therapy to reduce larval oyster mortalities in oyster hatcheries.