Articles | Volume 10, issue 11
Biogeosciences, 10, 7279–7291, 2013

Special issue: Deep-sea ecosystems in European seas

Biogeosciences, 10, 7279–7291, 2013

Research article 14 Nov 2013

Research article | 14 Nov 2013

Finding immune gene expression differences induced by marine bacterial pathogens in the Deep-sea hydrothermal vent mussel Bathymodiolus azoricus

E. Martins1,2, A. Queiroz3, R. Serrão Santos1,2, and R. Bettencourt2 E. Martins et al.
  • 1Department of Oceanography and Fisheries, University of the Azores (DOP/UAç), Rua Prof. Doutor Frederico Machado, 9901-862 Horta, Portugal
  • 2IMAR-Instituto do Mar/ Institute of Marine Research, Laboratory of Robotics and Systems in Engineering and Science (LARSyS), 9901-862 Horta (Azores) Portugal
  • 3Instituto Politécnico de Viana do Castelo (IPVC), Escola Superior Agrária de Ponte de Lima (ESAPL), Refóios do Lima, 4990-706 Ponte de Lima, Portugal

Abstract. The deep-sea hydrothermal vent mussel Bathymodiolus azoricus lives in a natural environment characterised by extreme conditions of hydrostatic pressure, temperature, pH, high concentrations of heavy metals, methane and hydrogen sulphide. The deep-sea vent biological systems represent thus the opportunity to study and provide new insights into the basic physiological principles that govern the defense mechanisms in vent animals and to understand how they cope with microbial infections. Hence, the importance of understanding this animal's innate defense mechanisms, by examining its differential immune gene expressions toward different pathogenic agents. In the present study, B. azoricus mussels were infected with single suspensions of marine bacterial pathogens, consisting of Vibrio splendidus, Vibrio alginolyticus, or Vibrio anguillarum, and a pool of these Vibrio bacteria. Flavobacterium suspensions were also used as a non-pathogenic bacterium. Gene expression analyses were carried out using gill samples from infected animals by means of quantitative-Polymerase Chain Reaction aimed at targeting several immune genes. We also performed SDS-PAGE protein analyses from the same gill tissues.

We concluded that there are different levels of immune gene expression between the 12 h to 24 h exposure times to various bacterial suspensions. Our results from qPCR demonstrated a general pattern of gene expression, decreasing from 12 h over 24 h post-infection. Among the bacteria tested, Flavobacterium is the bacterium inducing the highest gene expression level in 12 h post-infections animals. The 24 h infected animals revealed, however, greater gene expression levels, using V. splendidus as the infectious agent. The SDS-PAGE analysis also pointed at protein profile differences between 12 h and 24 h, particularly evident for proteins of 18–20 KDa molecular mass, where most dissimilarity was found. Multivariate analyses demonstrated that immune genes, as well as experimental infections, clustered in discrete groups in accordance with the gene expression patterns induced by bacterial pathogens.

Final-revised paper