Lesion bacterial communities in American lobsters with diet-induced shell disease

Document Type



Published in: Diseases of Aquatic Organisms of Aquatic Organisms, Vol. 98, 2012, p. 221-233


In southern New England, USA, shell disease affects the profitability of the American lobster Homarus americanus fishery. In laboratory trials using juvenile lobsters, exclusive feeding of herring Clupea harengus induces shell disease typified initially by small melanized spots that progress into distinct lesions. Amongst a cohabitated, but segregated, cohort of 11 juvenile lobsters fed exclusively herring, bacterial communities colonizing spots and lesions were investigated by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of 16S rDNA amplified using 1 group-specific and 2 universal primer sets. The Bacteroidetes and Proteobacteria predominated in both spots and lesions and included members of the orders Flavobacteriales (Bacteriodetes), Rhodobacterales, Rhodospirillales and Rhizobiales (Alphaproteobacteria), Xanthomonadales (Gammaproteobacteria) and unclassified Gammaproteobacteria. Bacterial communities in spot lesions displayed more diversity than communities with larger (older) lesions, indicating that the lesion communities stabilize over time. At least 8 bacterial types persisted as lesions developed from spots. Aquimarina homaria’, a species commonly cultured from lesions present on wild lobsters with epizootic shell disease, was found ubiquitously in spots and lesions, as was the ‘Candidatus Kopriimonas aquarianus’, implicating putative roles of these species in diet-induced shell disease of captive lobsters.