Background: Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a gram-negative marine bacterium, is a worldwide cause of food-borne gastroenteritis. V parahaemolyticus strains of a few specific serotypes, probably derived from a common clonal ancestor, have lately caused a pandemic of gastroenteritis. The organism is phylogenetically close to V cholerae, the causative agent of cholera.
Methods: The whole genome sequence of a clinical V parahaemolyticus strain RIMD2210633 was established by shotgun sequencing. The coding sequences were identified by use of Gambler and Glimmer programs. Comparative analysis with the V cholerae genome was undertaken with MUMmer.
Findings: The genome consisted of two circular chromosomes of 3288558 bp and 1877212 bp; it contained 4832 genes. Comparison of the V parahaemolyticus genome with that of V cholerae showed many rearrangements within and between the two chromosomes. Genes for the type III secretion system (TTSS) were identified in the genome of V parahaemolyticus; V cholerae does not have these genes.
Interpretation: The TTSS is a central virulence factor of diarrhoea-causing bacteria such as shigella, salmonella, and enteropathogenic Escherichia coli, which cause gastroenteritis by invading or intimately interacting with intestinal epithelial cells. Our results suggest that V parahaemolyticus and V cholerae use distinct mechanisms to establish infection. This finding explains clinical features of V parahaemolyticus infections, which commonly include inflammatory diarrhoea and in some cases systemic manifestations such as septicaemia, distinct from those of V cholerae infections, which are generally associated with non-inflammatory diarrhoea.