Comparison of Flexibacter columnaris strains isolated from fish in North America and other areas of the Pacific Rim Public Deposited

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  • Twenty-two isolates of Flexibacter columnaris were collected from different species of fish from a wide geographic range. Shieh medium was selected and modified to provide satisfactory growth of F. columnaris strains. Although there were three phenotypic variations in colony morphology among the strains observed, the environmental and biochemical characteristics as well as GC content revealed no differences among these isolates. However, when compared genetically by the method of DNA hybridization, there appeared to be two distinct groups based on the DNA homology. Group one was 81-98% homologous with Pacific Northwest strain DD3, and included isolates from Canada, Chile, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and USA (Atlantic and Pacific Coasts). Group two came from the southern portion of the USA, was less homologous (73%) with strain DD3 from the Pacific Northwest, and may be considered a different strain or species from F. columnaris. Taiwan strains 4G and 5F belonged to the different group and were classified into new species of cytophaga as a result of low DNA homology (<29%) to the Pacific Northwest strain of F. columnaris, although all other characteristics were identical to F. columnaris. Serological comparison of F. columnaris by crossed immunoelectrophoresis showed that all the tested strains had different antigenic profiles. Although they shared from 7 to 18 common antigens, strains varied in their composition by possessing 5 to 13 partially shared antigens analyzed by crossed immunoelectrophoresis with an intermediate gel. Strains IS, T13, and Ml were separated into three different serotypes based on the presence of type-specific unique antigens. However, strains 82303, DD3, IC8r, and 238 failed to type because no type-specific unique antigens were found. No correlation between the serotype and geographic or host sources was observed. These common antigens were shown to be protective by cross-infection of immunized rainbow trout with formalininactivated whole cell bacterin.
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