Applied and environmental microbiology

Yersinia ruckeri Isolates Recovered from Diseased Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) in Scotland Are More Diverse than Those from Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and Represent Distinct Subpopulations.

PMID 27451448


Yersinia ruckeri is the etiological agent of enteric redmouth (ERM) disease of farmed salmonids. Enteric redmouth disease is traditionally associated with rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss, Walbaum), but its incidence in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) is increasing. Yersinia ruckeri isolates recovered from diseased Atlantic salmon have been poorly characterized, and very little is known about the relationship of the isolates associated with these two species. Phenotypic approaches were used to characterize 109 Y. ruckeri isolates recovered over a 14-year period from infected Atlantic salmon in Scotland; 26 isolates from infected rainbow trout were also characterized. Biotyping, serotyping, and comparison of outer membrane protein profiles identified 19 Y. ruckeri clones associated with Atlantic salmon but only five associated with rainbow trout; none of the Atlantic salmon clones occurred in rainbow trout and vice versa These findings suggest that distinct subpopulations of Y. ruckeri are associated with each species. A new O serotype (designated O8) was identified in 56 biotype 1 Atlantic salmon isolates and was the most common serotype identified from 2006 to 2011 and in 2014, suggesting an increased prevalence during the time period sampled. Rainbow trout isolates were represented almost exclusively by the same biotype 2, serotype O1 clone that has been responsible for the majority of ERM outbreaks in this species within the United Kingdom since the 1980s. However, the identification of two biotype 2, serotype O8 isolates in rainbow trout suggests that vaccines containing serotypes O1 and O8 should be evaluated in both rainbow trout and Atlantic salmon for application in Scotland. Vaccination plays an important role in protecting Atlantic salmon against the bacterial pathogen Yersinia ruckeri, but, in recent years, there has been an increasing incidence of vaccine breakdown in salmon. This is largely because current vaccines are aimed at rainbow trout and are based on serotypes specific for this species. A wider range of serotypes is responsible for infection in Atlantic salmon, but very little is known about the diversity of these strains and their relationships to those recovered from rainbow trout. In the present study, we demonstrate that Y. ruckeri isolates recovered from diseased Atlantic salmon in Scotland are more diverse than those from rainbow trout; furthermore, isolates from the two species represent distinct subpopulations. In addition, a new O serotype was identified that is responsible for a significant proportion of the disease in Atlantic salmon. Our findings are likely to have important implications for the development of improved vaccines against Y. ruckeri.

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