Caligus rogercresseyi is a copepod ectoparasite with a high prevalence in salmon farms in Chile, causing severe welfare and economic concerns to the sector. Information on the parasite's underpinning mechanisms to support its life strategy is recently being investigated. Due to the critical role of microbiota, this study aimed to characterize the microbiota community associated with C. rogercresseyi from different regions with salmon aquaculture in Chile. Using third-generation sequencing with Nanopore technology (MinION) the full 16S rRNA gene from sea lice obtained from 8 areas distributed over the three main aquaculture regions were sequenced. Microbiota of the parasite is mainly comprised of members of phyla Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes, and a core microbiota community with 147 taxonomical features was identified, and it was present in sea lice from the three regions. This community accounted for 19% of total identified taxa but more than 70% of the total taxonomical abundance, indicating a strong presence in the parasite. Several taxa with bioactive compound secretory capacity were identified, such as members of genus Pseudoalteromonas and Dokdonia, suggesting a possible role of the lice microbiota during the host infestation processes. Furthermore, the microbiota community was differentially associated with the salmon production, where several potential pathogens such as Vibrio, Tenacibaculum, and Aeromonas in Los Lagos, Aysén, and Magallanes region were identified. Notably, the Chilean salmon industry was initially established in the Los Lagos region but it's currently moving to the south, where different oceanographic conditions coexist with lice populations. The results originated by this study will serve as foundation to investigate putative role of sea lice as vectors for fish pathogens and also as reservoirs for antibiotic-resistant genes.
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