Presence of hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria in the gills of mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis in a contaminated environment: a mesoscale simulation study.
A number of previous studies have shown that the relationships of symbiosis existing between mussels and microorganisms are directly dependent on the environmental conditions. However, little is known about existing relationships between mussels and bacteria in hydrocarbon-impacted marine environments. The aim of this preliminary study is to investigate the presence of oil-degrading bacteria in the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis during growth in polluted ecosystems. All the experiments were carried out in a mesocosm system designed to simulate chronic pollution and to enable direct exposure of mussels to chemicals. Quantitative (4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole, colony-forming units, Most Probable Number) analyses and screening (presence/absence) of metabolic functional genes were performed to analyse bacterial populations inside the gills of mussels exposed and not exposed to hydrocarbons. The data obtained show that the presence of hydrocarbons affected the abundance of bacteria inside the gills of specimens and determines selection for specific (hydrocarbon-degrading) bacteria (i.e. Alcanivorax sp. and Marinobacter sp.). However, is not yet clear whether the presence of such genera of bacteria inside the mussel is due to symbiosis or as a result of filtration.