Bacterial controlled mitigation of dysbiosis in a seaweed disease
Reference: The ISME Journal (2021) 16: 378–387

Disease in the marine environment is predicted to increase with anthropogenic stressors and already affects major habitat-formers, such as corals and seaweeds. Solutions to address this issue are urgently needed. The seaweed Delisea pulchra is prone to a bleaching disease, which is caused by opportunistic pathogens and involves bacterial dysbiosis. Bacteria that can inhibit these pathogens and/or counteract dysbiosis are therefore hypothesised to reduce disease. This study aimed to identify such disease-protective bacteria and investigate their protective action. One strain, Phaeobacter sp. BS52, isolated from healthy D. pulchra, was antagonistic towards bleaching pathogens and significantly increased the proportion of healthy individuals when applied before the pathogen challenge (pathogen-only vs. BS52 + pathogen: 41–80%), and to a level similar to the control. However, no significant negative correlations between the relative abundances of pathogens and BS52 on D. pulchra were detected. Instead, inoculation of BS52 mitigated pathogen-induced changes in the epibacterial community. These observations suggest that the protective activity of BS52 was due to its ability to prevent dysbiosis, rather than direct pathogen inhibition. This study demonstrates the feasibility of manipulating bacterial communities in seaweeds to reduce disease and that mitigation of dysbiosis can have positive health outcomes.

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Published By
Li J., Majzoub M. E., Marzinelli E., Dai Z., Thomas T., Egan S.