Author(s): Terceti MS, Ogut H, Osorio CR
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Abstract Photobacterium damselae subsp. damselae is considered to be an emerging pathogen of marine fish of importance in aquaculture, with a notable increase in its geographical distribution during the last several years. In this study, we carried out for the first time to our knowledge a genetic and pathobiological characterization of 14 strains isolated from sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) reared in the Southeastern Black Sea, where high mortalities were observed at two aquaculture farms during the summer and autumn of 2011. Heterogeneity was evidenced among strains in phenotypical traits, such as sucrose fermentation, motility, and hemolysis. Although 11 of 14 isolates were hemolytic, we found that all of the isolates lacked the pPHDD1 virulence plasmid that encodes the phospholipase-D damselysin (Dly) and the pore-forming toxin PhlyP, two hemolysins previously reported to constitute major virulence factors for turbot. Subsequent PCR and sequencing analyses demonstrated that the 11 hemolytic isolates harbored a complete hlyAch gene, a chromosome I-borne gene that encodes HlyAch hemolysin, whereas the three nonhemolytic isolates contained hlyAch pseudogenes caused by insertion sequence elements. Virulence challenges with two representative strains revealed that, albeit less virulent than the pPHDD1-harboring strain RM-71, the plasmidless hlyAch-positive and hlyAch-negative Black Sea isolates were pathogenic for sea bass. A phylogenetic analysis based on the toxR gene sequence uncovered a greater diversity in the isolates, indicating that the presence of this pathogen in the Black Sea was not caused by the introduction and spread of a single virulent clone but by the proliferation of different clones. IMPORTANCE: The geographical distribution of marine bacterial pathogens is undergoing a worldwide increase. In particular, bacteria of the group vibrios are increasingly being isolated as the causative agents of disease in novel species of cultivated fish in areas where they had not been previously reported. Here we characterize for the first time to our knowledge a collection of isolates of the fish and human pathogen Photobacterium damselae subsp. damselae from diseased sea bass reared in the Black Sea. We uncovered great genetic diversity in the Black Sea isolates of this pathogen, suggesting a multiclonal origin. We also demonstrate for the first time that these isolates bear pathogenic potential for sea bass cultures by virulence challenges. Copyright © 2016, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
This article was published in Appl Environ Microbiol
and referenced in Journal of Aquaculture Research & Development