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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 94:189-199 (2011)  -  DOI:

Tenacibaculum sp. associated with winter ulcers in sea-reared Atlantic salmon Salmo salar

A. B. Olsen1,*, H. Nilsen1, N. Sandlund2, H. Mikkelsen3, H. Sørum4, D. J. Colquhoun5

1National Veterinary Institute Bergen, 5811 Bergen, Norway
2Institute of Marine Research, 5817 Bergen, Norway
3Nofima Marin, 9291 Tromsø, Norway
4Norwegian College of Veterinary Medicine, 0033 Oslo, Norway
5National Veterinary Institute Oslo, 0106 Oslo, Norway

ABSTRACT: Coldwater-associated ulcers, i.e. winter ulcers, in seawater-reared Atlantic salmon Salmo salar L. have been reported in Norway since the late 1980s, and Moritella viscosa has been established as an important factor in the pathogenesis of this condition. As routine histopathological examination of winter ulcer cases in our laboratory revealed frequent presence in ulcers of long, slender rods clearly different from M. viscosa, a closer study focusing on these bacteria was conducted. Field cases of winter ulcers during 2 sampling periods, 1996 and 2004–2005, were investigated and long, slender rods were observed by histopathological examination in 70 and 62.5% of the ulcers examined, respectively, whereas cultivation on marine agar resulted in the isolation of yellow-­pigmented colonies with long rods from 3 and 13% of the ulcers only. The isolates could be separated into 2 groups, both identified as belonging to the genus Tenacibaculum based on phenotypic characterization and 16S rRNA sequencing. Bath challenge for 7 h confirmed the ability of Group 1 bacterium to produce skin and cornea ulcers. In fish already suffering from M. viscosa-induced ulcers, co-infection with the Group 1 bacterium was established within 1 h. Ulcers from field cases of winter ulcers and from the transmission experiments tested positive by immunohistochemistry with polyclonal antiserum against the Group 1 bacterium but not the Group 2 bacterium. Our results strongly indicate the importance of the Group 1 bacterium in the pathogenesis of winter ulcers in Norway. The bacterium is difficult to isolate and is therefore likely to be underdiagnosed based on cultivation only.

KEY WORDS: Winter ulcers · Tenacibaculum · Atlantic salmon · Transmission experiment · Moritella viscosa · Cod · Halibut

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Cite this article as: Olsen AB, Nilsen H, Sandlund N, Mikkelsen H, Sørum H, Colquhoun DJ (2011) Tenacibaculum sp. associated with winter ulcers in sea-reared Atlantic salmon Salmo salar. Dis Aquat Org 94:189-199.

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