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Scrutinizing the triad of Vibrio tapetis, the skin barrier and pigmentation as determining factors in the development of skin ulcerations in wild common dab (Limanda limanda)

  • Vercauteren, Maaike1
  • De Swaef, Evelien2
  • Declercq, Annelies M.1, 3
  • Polet, Hans4
  • Aerts, Johan5
  • Ampe, Bart6
  • Romalde, Jesus L.7
  • Haesebrouck, Freddy1
  • Devriese, Lisa3
  • Decostere, Annemie1
  • Chiers, Koen1
  • 1 Ghent University, Department of Pathology, Bacteriology and Avian Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Salisburylaan 133, Merelbeke, 9820, Belgium , Merelbeke (Belgium)
  • 2 Ghent University, Department of Morphology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Salisburylaan 133, Merelbeke, 9820, Belgium , Merelbeke (Belgium)
  • 3 Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ), Research Division, InnovOcean Site, Wandelaarkaai 7, Ostend, 8400, Belgium , Ostend (Belgium)
  • 4 Animal Sciences Unit–Aquatic Environment and Quality, Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO), Ankerstraat 1, Ostend, 8400, Belgium , Ostend (Belgium)
  • 5 Animal Sciences Unit, Stress Physiology Research Group, Faculty of Sciences of Ghent University and Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO), Green Bridge Science Park, Ostend, 8400, Belgium , Ostend (Belgium)
  • 6 Animal Husbandry, Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO), Scheldeweg 68, Melle, 9090, Belgium , Melle (Belgium)
  • 7 Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Department of Microbiology and Parasitology, CIBUS–Faculty of Biology, Campus Vida s/n, Santiago de Compostela, 15782, Spain , Santiago de Compostela (Spain)
Published Article
Veterinary Research
BioMed Central
Publication Date
Jun 03, 2019
DOI: 10.1186/s13567-019-0659-6
Springer Nature


Recently, Vibrio tapetis was isolated for the first time from skin ulcerations in wild-caught common dab (Limanda limanda). To further examine its role in the development of these skin lesions, an in vivo experiment was performed. The significance of the skin barrier and in addition the difference between pigmented and non-pigmented side were investigated. Hence, the skin of common dab was treated in three different ways on both the pigmented and non-pigmented side. On a first “treatment zone”, the scales and overlying epidermal tissue were removed whereas in a second zone only the mucus was discarded. The third zone served as a non-treated zone. Thereafter, fish were challenged with V. tapetis. The control group was sham treated. Mortality, clinical signs, severity and size of the developing lesions were recorded. All animals were sacrificed and sampled 21 days post-inoculation. Significantly more fish of the group challenged with V. tapetis died compared to the control group with the highest incidence occurring 4 days post-inoculation. Fish challenged with V. tapetis developed more severe skin ulcerations. In zones where scales and epidermal tissue were removed, the ulcerations were more severe compared to zones where only mucus was eliminated. Ulcerations occurred more frequently, were more severe and larger on the pigmented side. Our data represents prove of V. tapetis as causative agent of ulcerative skin lesions although prior damage of the skin seems to be a major contributing factor. Furthermore, the pigmented side seemed predisposed to the development of skin ulcerations.

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