Aims: To characterize 46 isolates of different Aeromonas spp. strains (26 Aeromonas hydrophila, 13 Aeromonas sobria and 7 Aeromonas salmonicida) isolated from coastal water and clinical sources in Sardinia, Italy.
Methods and results: The isolates were analysed for the production of the following virulence properties: slime, haemolysin, gelatinase and protease production, and adhesion to eucaryotic epithelial cells. The presence of known virulence genes: A. hydrophila cytolytic enterotoxin gene AHCYTOEN; type IV pilus gene Tap; Bundle forming pilus genes BfpA and BfpG were investigated using polymerase chain reaction (PCR). In addition the enterobacterial repetitive intergenic consensus sequences (ERIC)-PCR fingerprinting was used to further differentiate the strains.
Conclusions: This study confirms the presence of virulent Aeromonas strains in the Mediterranean sea. The study also found a greater prevalence of haemolysin, protease and gelatinase production, as well as a higher adhesion capacity, among strains isolated from patients with diarrhoea.
Significance and impact of the study: This is the first time that Aeromonads have been isolated and characterized from Sardinian waters and from patients with diarrhoea in Sardinia. This study adds to our knowledge of the ecology of this micro-organism and may in the future help prevent infections both in fish and in humans.