Prevalence of genetically similar Flavobacterium columnare phages across aquaculture environments reveals a strong potential for pathogen control

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  • Anniina Runtuvuori-Salmela
  • Heidi M. T. Kunttu
  • Elina Laanto
  • Gabriel M. F. Almeida
  • Kati Mäkelä
  • Middelboe, Mathias
  • Lotta-Riina Sundberg

Intensive aquaculture conditions expose fish to bacterial infections, leading to significant financial losses, extensive antibiotic use and risk of antibiotic resistance in target bacteria. Flavobacterium columnare causes columnaris disease in aquaculture worldwide. To develop a bacteriophage-based control of columnaris disease, we isolated and characterized 126 F. columnare strains and 63 phages against F. columnare from Finland and Sweden in 2017. Bacterial isolates were virulent on rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and fell into four previously described genetic groups A, C, E and G, with genetic groups C and E being the most virulent. Phage host range studied against a collection of 227 bacterial isolates (from 2013 to 2017) demonstrated modular infection patterns based on host genetic group. Phages infected contemporary and previously isolated bacterial hosts, but bacteria isolated most recently were generally resistant to previously isolated phages. Despite large differences in geographical origin, isolation year or host range of the phages, whole-genome sequencing of 56 phages showed high level of genetic similarity to previously isolated F. columnare phages (Ficleduovirus, Myoviridae). Altogether, this phage collection demonstrates a potential for use in phage therapy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)2404-2420
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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© 2022 The Authors. Environmental Microbiology published by Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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