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Strain Variation in Mycobacteriummarinum Fish Isolates

American Society for Microbiology
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  • Public Health Microbiology
  • Biology
  • Medicine


A molecular characterization of two Mycobacterium marinum genes, 16S rRNA and hsp65, was carried out with a total of 21 isolates from various species of fish from both marine and freshwater environments of Israel, Europe, and the Far East. The nucleotide sequences of both genes revealed that all M. marinum isolates from fish in Israel belonged to two different strains, one infecting marine (cultured and wild) fish and the other infecting freshwater (cultured) fish. A restriction enzyme map based on the nucleotide sequences of both genes confirmed the divergence of the Israeli marine isolates from the freshwater isolates and differentiated the Israeli isolates from the foreign isolates, with the exception of one of three Greek isolates from marine fish which was identical to the Israeli marine isolates. The second isolate from Greece exhibited a single base alteration in the 16S rRNA sequence, whereas the third isolate was most likely a new Mycobacterium species. Isolates from Denmark and Thailand shared high sequence homology to complete identity with reference strain ATCC 927. Combined analysis of the two gene sequences increased the detection of intraspecific variations and was thus of importance in studying the taxonomy and epidemiology of this aquatic pathogen. Whether the Israeli M. marinum strain infecting marine fish is endemic to the Red Sea and found extremely susceptible hosts in the exotic species imported for aquaculture or rather was accidentally introduced with occasional imports of fingerlings from the Mediterranean Sea could not be determined.

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