A European epidemiological survey of Vibrio splendidus clade shows unexplored diversity and massive exchange of virulence factors

The Vibrio splendidus clade has previously been associated with epidemic outbreaks of various aquatic animals, as in the case of the cupped oyster, Crassostrea gigas. To investigate whether involved strains could present a clonal origin and to identify possible alternative background carriage animals or zooplankton, a large epidemiological survey was conducted on isolates of the splendidus clade. For this purpose, Vibrio strains were isolated from various samples including oysters, mussels, sediments, zooplankton, and sea water on the basis of a North/South gradient of the European sea water zone (Ireland, The Netherlands, France, Italy, and Spain). A total of 435 isolates were successfully associated to the V. splendidus clade using real time polymerase chain reaction with 16S specific primers and probes. A multiple-locus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis (VNTR) was conducted on all isolates based on a multiplex PCR-VNTR with a set of primer pairs designed from the V. tasmaniensis LGP32 genome. Preliminary validation of the primers on a set of collection strains from the V. splendidus clade confirmed that the former V. splendidus-related LGP32 and relative strains were related to V. tasmaniensis rather than to the type strain V. splendidus LMG 4042. The VNTR analysis was then successfully conducted on 335 isolates which led to the characterization of 87 different profiles. Our results showed that (1) the high diversity of VNTR did not enlighten significant correlation between a specific pattern and the origin of collected samples. However, populations isolated from animal samples tend to differ from those of the background environment; (2) oyster mortality events could not be linked to the clonal proliferation of a particular VNTR type. However, few different patterns seemed successively associated with samples collected during peaks of oyster's mortality. (3) Finally, no correlation could be seen between specific VNTR patterns and sequence phylogeny of the virulence factors vsm and ompU that were detected among strains isolated during as well as outside mortality events. These results, combined with incongruence observed between the ompU and vsm phylogenetic trees, suggested both large diffusion of strains and massive lateral gene transfer within the V. splendidus clade.


VNTR, Vibrio splendidus, Epidemiology, vsm, ompU, Crassotrea giga, Mortality

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Nasfi H., Travers Marie-Agnes, de Lorgeril Julien, Habib C., Sannie T., Sorieul L., Gerard J., Avarre J. C., Haffner Philippe, Tourbiez Delphine, Renault Tristan, Furones D., Roque A., Pruzzo C., Cheslett D., Gdoura R., Vallaeys T. (2015). A European epidemiological survey of Vibrio splendidus clade shows unexplored diversity and massive exchange of virulence factors. World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology. 31 (3). 461-475. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11274-015-1800-y, https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00255/36666/

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