Host adaptation of an emerging pathogen in fish

Tilapia fishIn a multi-institutional collaboration, Prof. Ruth Zadoks has combined team expertise in epidemiology of multi-host pathogens and molecular bacteriology with expertise in aquaculture to investigate the potential host adaptation of an emerging pathogen in fish.

The organism, Streptococcus agalactiae, is increasingly recognized as a production limiting organism, particularly in aquaculture of tilapia, one of the world’s most common and fastest growing aquaculture species. Through comparison of isolates from multiple continents and host species, the team has identified specific fish-associated strains of the pathogen. This epidemiological association was confirmed through development of challenge models in the target host. Genome sequencing of fish-associated strains and comparison with strains from other host species led to identification of putative fish-specific genomic content.

Work is now in progress to confirm the functional relevance of these loci and to explore opportunities for vaccine development in collaboration with a leading fish health company.

First published: 16 December 2014