Francisella marina sp. nov., etiologic agent of systemic disease in cultured spotted rose snapper (Lutjanus guttatus) in Central America

Esteban Soto Martinez, Matt J. Griffin, Juan Alberto Morales, Elías Barquero Calvo, Fernanda de Alexandre Sebastião, Adrián Lopez Porras, Xindy Víquez-Rodríguez, Stephen R. Reichley, Thomas G. Rosser, Cynthia Ware, Barbara A Byrne, Julio C. García, Benjamin R. LaFrentz, Alvin C. Camus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Historically, piscine francisellosis in various warm-, temperate-, and coldwater fish hosts has been attributed to Francisella noatunensis. From 2015 to 2016, an undescribed Francisella sp. was recovered during mortality events in cultured spotted rose snapper (Lutjanus guttatus) off the Pacific coast of Central America. Despite high mortality and emaciation, limited gross findings were observed in affected fish. Histological examination revealed multifocal granulomatous lesions, with the presence of numerous small, pleomorphic coccobacilli, predominantly in the peritoneum, spleen, kidneys, liver, pancreas, heart, and intestine. Sequencing of an ~1,400-bp fragment of the 16S rRNA gene demonstrated these isolates to be most similar (99.9% identity) to Francisella sp. isolate TX077308 cultured from seawater in the Gulf of Mexico, while sharing < 99% similarity to other Fransicella spp. Biochemical analysis, multilocus sequence comparisons of select housekeeping genes, repetitive extragenic palindromic PCR fingerprinting, matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization- time of flight mass spectrometry, and fatty acid methyl ester analysis revealed marked differences between these isolates and other described members of the genus. Koch's postulates were fulfilled by experimental intracoelomic injection and immersion trials using Nile (Oreochromis niloticus) and blue (Oreochromis aureus) tilapia. Based on observed phenotypic and genotypic differences from recognized Francisella spp., the name Francisella marina sp. nov. (NRRL B-65518) is proposed to accommodate these novel strains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00144-18
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018


  • Aquaculture
  • Fish pathogens
  • Francisella
  • Snapper

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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