The colonisation of planktonic copepod integument by bacteria belonging to the family of Vibrionaceae is a well described phenomenon. In this study, besides reporting on the occurrence of Vibrionaceae and other enteropathogens, we further report on the bacterial attachment to the Estuarine copepod Acartia margalefi in a faecal polluted coastal lagoon near Naples, Southern Italy. In addition, we also performed a laboratory experiment to study the ability of 7 bacterial strains (Vibrio cholerae non-O1, V. mimicus, V. parahaemolyticus, V. alginolyticus, Aeromonas hydrophila, Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas sp.) to colonise the copepod integument. For this laboratory study, 4 different species of copepods, namely Temora stylifera, A. clausi, Centropages typicus and Paracalanus parvus sampled from the Gulf of Naples (Southern Italy) were used. Scanning electron microscope (SEM) studies on the copepods sampled from the lagoon indicated that the bacterial attachment on the integument of Acartia margalefi was mainly on the ventro-lateral body region of the host and in the joints of the thoracic segments, as well as on the swimming and feeding appendages. This infestation, made by rod-like bacteria, was absent in winter but reached peak values of 70% frequency in June. The laboratory studies showed that while V. cholerae non-O1 and A. hydrophila attached on live and dead copepods, respectively, the V. parahaemolyticus, V. alginolyticus, V. mimicus, E. coli and Pseudomonas sp. failed to colonise either live or dead copepods. Thus, this study provides further valuable information about the ecological relationship between different microorganisms (pathogens) and copepods in the coastal marine environment in Southern Italy.
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