DAO 58:1-8 (2004)  -  doi:10.3354/dao058001

Phenotypic characterization and description of two major O-serotypes in Tenacibaculum maritimum strains from marine fishes

Ruben Avendaño-Herrera, Beatriz Magariños, Sonia López-Romalde, Jesús L. Romalde, Alicia E. Toranzo*

Departamento de Microbiología y Parasitología, Facultad de Biología, Universidad de Santiago, 15782 Santiago de Compostela, Spain
*E-mail:

ABSTRACT: Tenacibaculum maritimum is the etiological agent of marine flexibacteriosis disease, with the potential to cause severe mortalities in various cultured marine fishes. The development of effective preventive measures (i.e. vaccination) requires biochemical, serological and genetic knowledge of the pathogen. With this aim, the biochemical and antigenic characteristics of T. maritimum strains isolated from sole, turbot and gilthead sea bream were analysed. Rabbit antisera were prepared against sole and turbot strains to examine the antigenic relationships between the 29 isolates and 3 reference strains. The results of the slide agglutination test, dot-blot assay and immunoblotting of lipopolysaccharides (LPS) and membrane proteins were evaluated. All bacteria studied were biochemically identical to the T. maritimum reference strains. The slide agglutination assays using O antigens revealed cross-reaction for all strains regardless of the host species and serum employed. However, when the dot-blot assays were performed, the existence of antigenic heterogeneity was demonstrated. This heterogeneity was supported by immunoblot analysis of the LPS, which clearly revealed 2 major serological groups that were distinguishable without the use of absorbed antiserum: Serotypes O1 and O2. These 2 serotypes seem to be host-specfic. In addition, 2 sole isolates and the Japanese reference strains displayed cross-reaction with both sera in all serological assays, and are considered to constitute a minor serotype, O1/O2. Analysis of total and outer membrane proteins revealed that all strains share a considerable number of common bands that are antigenically related.


KEY WORDS: Tenacibaculum maritimum · O-antigen · Lipopolysaccharides · Serotype · Marine fishes


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