In the summer of 2008 and 2009, a series of mortalities in growing out seeds of R. decussatus juveniles were occurred in the eastern Tunisian littoral. Nine predominant bacterial strains were isolated from dead and moribund juveniles and characterized as Vibrio alginolyticus. These isolates were subjected to biochemical and molecular characterization. All the Vibrio strains were tested for their susceptibility against the most widely used antibiotic in aquaculture as well as, the assessment of the presence of erythromycin (emrB) and tetracycline (tetS) resistance genes among the tested bacteria. The degree of genetic relatedness between V. alginolyticus strains was evaluated on the basis of the Entero-Bacterial Repetitive Intergenic Consensus (ERIC) and the Random Amplification of Polymorphic DNA-PCR (RAPD-PCR) approaches. We also looked for siderophore activity and the ability to grow under iron limitation. Furthermore, the pathogenic potential of the tested isolates was evaluated using R. decussatus larva and juveniles as infection models. On antimicrobial susceptibility test, Vibrio strains exhibited total resistance to at least four antibiotics. The MICs data revealed that flumequine and oxolinic acid were the most effective antibiotics to control the studied bacteria. Results also showed that studied antibiotics resistance genes were widely disseminated in the genome of V. alginolyticus strains. Both ERIC and RAPD-PCR fingerprinting showed the presence of genetic variation among Vibrio isolates. However, RAPD typing exhibited a higher discriminative potential than ERIC-PCR. Besides, we reported here for the first time the co-production of catechol and hydroxamte by V. alginolyticus species. The challenge experiment showed that most of Vibrio isolates caused high mortality rates for both larva and juveniles at 48-h post-exposure to a bacterial concentration of 106 CFU/ml.
Keywords: ERIC; Experimental challenge; RAPD; Ruditapes decussatus; Siderophores; Vibrio alginolyticus.
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