Multilocus sequence analysis of diverse Streptococcus iniae isolates indicates an underlying genetic basis for phenotypic heterogeneity

Taylor I. Heckman, Matt J. Griffin, Alvin C. Camus, Benjamin R. LaFrentz, Danny Morick, Rita Smirnov, Tamir Ofek, Esteban Soto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Streptococcus iniae is a Gram-positive, opportunistically zoonotic bacterium infective to a wide variety of farmed and wild fish species worldwide. Outbreaks in wild fish can have detrimental environmental and cultural impacts, and mortality events in aquaculture can result in significant economic losses. As an emerging or re-emerging pathogen of global significance, understanding the coalescing factors contributing to piscine streptococcosis is crucial for developing strategies to control infections. Intraspecific antigenic and genetic variability of S. iniae has made development of autogenous vaccines a challenge, particularly where the diversity of locally endemic S. iniae strains is unknown. This study genetically and phenotypically characterized 11 S. iniae isolates from diseased wild and farmed fish from North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. A multilocus sequence analysis (MLSA) scheme was developed to phylogenetically compare these isolates to 84 other strains of Streptococcus spp. relevant to aquaculture. MLSA generated phylogenies comparable to established genotyping methods, and isolates formed distinct clades related to phenotype and host species. The endothelial Oreochromis mossambicus bulbus arteriosus cell line and whole blood from rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss, Nile tilapia Oreochromis niloticus, and white sturgeon Acipenser transmontanus were used to investigate the persistence and virulence of the 11 isolates using in vitro assays. In vivo challenges using an O. niloticus model were used to evaluate virulence by the intragastric route of infection. Isolates showed significant differences (p < 0.05) in virulence and persistence, with some correlation to genogroup, establishing a basis for further work uncovering genetic factors leading to increased pathogenicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-69
Number of pages17
JournalDiseases of Aquatic Organisms
StatePublished - 17 Sep 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Inter-Research 2020 ·


  • Aquaculture
  • Genotype
  • MLSA
  • Multilocus sequence analysis
  • Streptococcosis
  • Streptococcus iniae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Multilocus sequence analysis of diverse Streptococcus iniae isolates indicates an underlying genetic basis for phenotypic heterogeneity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this