Impact of hypoxia on gene expression patterns by the human pathogen, Vibrio vulnificus , and bacterial community composition in a North Carolina estuary
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Impact of hypoxia on gene expression patterns by the human pathogen, Vibrio vulnificus , and bacterial community composition in a North Carolina estuary

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    Estuarine environments are continuously being shaped by both natural and anthropogenic sources which directly/indirectly influence the organisms that inhabit these important niches on both individual and community levels. Human infections caused by pathogenic Vibrio species are continuing to rise, and factors associated with global climate change have been suggested to be impacting their abundance and geographical range. Along with temperature, hypoxia has also increased dramatically in the last 40 years, which has led to persistent dead zones worldwide in areas where these infections are increasing. Thus, utilizing membrane diffusion chambers, we investigated the impact of in situ hypoxia on the gene expression of one such bacterium, Vibrio vulnificus , which is an inhabitant of these vulnerable areas worldwide. By coupling these data with multiple abiotic factors, we were able to demonstrate that genes involved in numerous functions, including those involved in virulence, environmental persistence, and stressosome production, were negatively correlated with dissolved oxygen. Furthermore, comparing 16S ribosomal RNA, we found similar overall community compositions during both hypoxia and normoxia. However, unweighted beta diversity analyses revealed that although certain classes of bacteria dominate in both low‐ and high‐oxygen environments, there is the potential for quantitative shifts in lower abundant species, which may be important for effective risk assessment in areas that are becoming increasingly more hypoxic. This study emphasizes the importance of investigating hypoxia as a trigger for gene expression changes by marine Vibrio species and highlights the need for more in depth community analyses during estuarine hypoxia.
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    GeoHealth 1(1), 37-50, 2017
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