DAO 38:11-22 (1999)  -  doi:10.3354/dao038011

Production of exotoxins by two luminous Vibrio harveyi strains known to be primary pathogens of Penaeus monodon larvae

L. J. Harris*, L. Owens

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia
and
The Cooperative Research Centre for Aquaculture, PO Box 123, Broadway, Sydney, New South Wales 2007, Australia
*Address for correspondence: Seafarm Pty Ltd, Ella Bay Rd, Flying Fish Point, Innisfail, Queensland 4860, Australia. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: Two luminous strains of Vibrio harveyi, previously demonstrated to be virulent to Penaeus monodon larvae were shown to produce proteinaceous exotoxins capable of causing mortality in mice and P. monodon at relatively small concentrations. These toxins were isolated from cell-free supernatants of mid-exponential phase broth cultures. Toxin T1, produced by V. harveyi strain 47666-1, had an LD50 of 2.1 µg g-1 by intra-peritoneal injection in CBA mice and 1.8 µg g-1 by intra-muscular injection in juvenile P. monodon. This protein comprised 2 subunits of approximately 55 and 45 kDa, giving the native protein a weight of approximately 100 kDa. Toxin T2, produced by V. harveyi strain 642, had an LD50 of 3.1 µg g-1 by intra-peritoneal injection in CBA mice and 2.2 µg g-1 by intra-muscular injection in juvenile P. monodon. Partial sequencing of both toxins did not reveal definitive matches to other known bacterial proteins. However, some partial homology to toxin or toxin-associated proteins was found. These toxins are likely to be important virulence factors for these strains. The quantity, type and mode of action of toxins such as these, when expressed by virulent V. harveyi strains, may provide an explanation for the variability in virulence which has been observed for this species.


KEY WORDS: Vibrio harveyi · Penaeus monodon larvae · Virulence · Exotoxins


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