1 Food Safety and Zoonoses, Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet2 unknown3 Food Safety and Zoonoses, Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet
Background: Vibriosis is one of the most ubiquitous fish diseases caused by bacteria belonging to the genus Vibrio such as Vibrio (Listonella) anguillarum. Despite a lot of research efforts, the virulence factors and mechanism of V. anguillarum are still insufficiently known, in part because of the lack of standardized virulence assays. Methodology/Principal Findings: We investigated and compared the virulence of 15 V. anguillarum strains obtained from different hosts or non-host niches using a standardized gnotobiotic bioassay with European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax L.) larvae as model hosts. In addition, to assess potential relationships between virulence and genotypic and phenotypic characteristics, the strains were characterized by random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) and repetitive extragenic palindromic PCR (rep-PCR) analyses, as well as by phenotypic analyses using Biolog's Phenotype MicroArray (TM) technology and some virulence factor assays. Conclusions/Significance: Virulence testing revealed ten virulent and five avirulent strains. While some relation could be established between serotype, genotype and phenotype, no relation was found between virulence and genotypic or phenotypic characteristics, illustrating the complexity of V. anguillarum virulence. Moreover, the standardized gnotobiotic system used in this study has proven its strength as a model to assess and compare the virulence of different V. anguillarum strains in vivo. In this way, the bioassay contributes to the study of mechanisms underlying virulence in V. anguillarum.