Mucus glycosylation, immunity and bacterial microbiota associated to the skin of experimentally ulcered gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata)

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Abstract

Interest in fish skin immunity and its associated microbiota has greatly increased among immunologists. The objective of this study is to know if skin ulcers may be associated with changes in the mucus composition and microbial diversity. The abundance of terminal carbohydrates, several enzymes (protease, antiprotease, peroxidase, lysozyme) and total immunoglobulin M levels were evaluated in skin mucus of experimentally ulcered gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata L.). Furthermore, the composition of the microbiota of ulcered and non-ulcered skin has been determined using Illumina Miseq technology. Significant decreases of terminal abundance of α-D-mannose, α-D-glucose and N-acetyl-galactosamine in skin mucus of ulcered fish, compared to control fish were detected. The levels of IgM and all the tested enzymes in mucus were decreased in ulcered fish (compared to control fish) although the observed decreases were only statistically significant for proteases and antiproteases. Concomitantly, the analysis of the composition of the skin microbiota showed clear differences between ulcered and non-ulcered areas. The genus taxonomic analysis showed that Staphylococcus and Lactobacillus were more abundant in non-ulcered skin whereas in ulcered area were Streptococcus and Granulicatella. Important decreases of the number of sequences related to Alteromonas, Thalassabius and Winogradskyella were detected in ulcered skin whilst slight increases of sequences related to Flavobacterium, Chryseobacterium and Tenacibaculum genera were observed. Overall these results demonstrated that the presence of skin ulcers provide microenvironments that perturb both the mucus composition and microbial biodiversity of this important external surface which seem to be more vulnerable to diseases.

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