Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2019NJ179B

Disease impact on denitrifying potential of oysters in Delaware Bay

Institute: New Jersey
Year Established: 2019 Start Date: 2019-06-01 End Date: 2020-05-31
Total Federal Funds: $4,852 Total Non-Federal Funds: $9,704

Principal Investigators: Heidi Yeh

Abstract: Oysters provide great benefit to the marine ecosystems in which they live, as they actively improve the water quality with their powerful filtration capabilities. This activity recycles nutrients and deposits nitrogen-laden organics in the surrounding sediments, where denitrification processes remove nitrogen from the water. Nitrogen cycling and denitrification are also carried out within the oyster microbiome. However, this community is poorly understood, and few studies have attempted to examine the oyster microbiome in the context of disease, leaving its influence on oyster population dynamics largely unexplored. To study the impact of disease on the oyster microbiome, and subsequent changes in the denitrifying capacity of this compartment, a multipronged approach will be used to characterize the microbiome and gene expression of Delaware Bay oysters in various states of health. This methodology combines conventional metabarcoding approaches with direct observation of the expression of genes involved in denitrification, a process which removes nitrate pollution from the marine environment. In the course of this study, the microbiome of Delaware bay oysters will be characterized, including its response to variation in disease, season, location, and other environmental variables. Identifying microbiome constituents associated with oyster health will contribute to our understanding of the microbiome’s role in oyster health and set priorities for disease research that will impact NJ water quality. This specific study will lay the groundwork for focused tank studies that will study microbiome changes throughout disease progression to determine if certain changes predispose oysters to disease or occur as a result of disease.