Identification of Mycobacterium pseudoshottsii in the Eastern Mediterranean

Nadav Davidovich, Andrei Makhon, Gal Zizelski Valenci, Zeev Dveyrin, Tal Yahav, Tobia Pretto, Dan Tchernov, Danny Morick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Among the numerous pathogenic nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM), which may cause disease in both poikilothermic and homoeothermic organisms, members of the unique clade Mycobacterium ulcerans/Mycobacterium marinum (MuMC) may cause disease in both fish and humans. Here, we describe the emergence of Mycobacterium pseudoshottsii, one of the four MuMC members, in Israel. For many years, M. marinum was the dominant NTM that was diagnosed in Israel as a fish pathogen. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first isolation and genomic characterization of M. pseudoshottsii infecting edible fish from two different fish species farmed in offshore sea cages in the eastern Mediterranean as well as in a recirculating aquaculture system in Israel. We compared the M. pseudoshottsii whole-genome sequences to all available genomic sequences of MuMC in free, publicly accessible databases. IMPORTANCE Mycobacterium pseudoshottsii was first detected in 1997 in the USA, infecting wild striped bass (Morone saxatilis). Since then, several reports from different countries worldwide have shown its capacity to become established in new regions as well as its pathogenicity to saltwater and euryhaline finfish of different genera. Our phylogenetic analysis revealed that the Mycobacterium ulcerans/Mycobacterium marinum clade (MuMC) is divided into two main branches: one that includes M. marinum and M. pseudoshottsii, and the second, which includes other M. marinum isolates as well as two isolates of M. shottsii. Our results reinforce the proposition that the geographical distribution of M. pseudoshottsii is much more extensive than is commonly believed. The emergence of M. pseudoshottsii in different parts of the world and its pathogenic traits that affect finfish of different genera may be a cause for concern among fish farmers, researchers, and environmental organizations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e0085623
JournalMicrobiology spectrum
Issue number4
StatePublished - 17 Aug 2023


  • emerging pathogen
  • Israel
  • Mycobacterium pseudoshottsii
  • nontuberculous mycobacteria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Ecology
  • Immunology and Microbiology (all)
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology
  • Infectious Diseases


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