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Title: The fish pathogen Francisella orientalis : characterisation and vaccine development
Author: Ramirez Paredes, J. G.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5347 2730
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2015
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Piscine francisellosis in an infectious emerging bacterial disease that affects several marine and fresh water fish species worldwide, including farmed salmon, wild and farmed cod, farmed tilapia and several ornamental species, for which no commercial treatment or vaccine exists. During 2011 and the first semester of 2012, chronic episodes of moderate to high levels of mortality with nonspecific clinical signs, and widespread multifocal white nodules as the most consistent gross pathological lesion were experienced by farmed tilapia fingerlings at two different locations in Northern Europe. In this study such outbreaks of granulomatous disease were diagnosed as francisellosis with a genus-specific PCR, and 10 new isolates of the bacterium including the one named STIR-GUS-F2f7, were recovered on a new selective “cysteine blood-tilapia” agar and cysteine heart agar with bovine haemoglobin. Ultrastructural observations of the pathogen in Nile tilapia (O. niloticus) tissues suggested the secretion of outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) by the bacterial cells during infection in these fish. This represented the first documented report of isolation of pathogenic Francisella strains from tilapia in Europe. The phenotypic characterisation indicated that isolates recovered were able to metabolise dextrin, N-acetyl-D glucosamine, D-fructose, α-D-glucose, D-mannose, methyl pyruvate, acetic acid, α-keto butyric acid, L-alaninamide, L-alanine, L-alanylglycine, L-asparagine, L-glutamic acid, L-proline, L-serine, L-threonine, inosine, uridine, glycerol, D L-α-glycerol phosphate, glucose-1-phosphate and glucose-6-phosphate. The predominant structural fatty acids of the isolates were 24:1 (20.3%), 18:1n-9 (16.9%), 24:0 (13.1%) 14:0 (10.9%), 22:0 (7.8%), 16:0 (7.6%) and 18:0 (5.5%). Anti-microbial resistance analyses indicated that STIR-GUS-F2f7 was susceptible to neomycin, novobiocin, amikacin, ciprofloxacin, imipenem, gatifloxacin, meropenem, tobramycin, nitrofurantoin, and levofloxacin using the quantitative broth micro-dilution method, while the qualitative disc diffusion method indicated susceptibility to enrofloxacin, kanamycin, gentamicin, tetracycline, oxytetracycline, florfenicol, oxolinic acid and streptomycin. The use of the following housekeeping genes: mdh, dnaA, mutS, 16SrRNA-ITS-23SrRNA, prfB putA rpoA, rpoB and tpiA indicated 100% similarity with other isolates belonging to the subspecies F. noatunensis orientalis (Fno). Koch’s postulates were successfully fulfilled by establishing an intraperitoneal injection (IP) challenge model with STIR-GUS-F2f7 in Nile tilapia. Moreover, the challenge model was used to investigate the susceptibility of 3 genetic groups of tilapia to STIR-GUS-F2f7. The lowest amount of bacteria required to cause mortality was 12 CFU/ml and this was seen as early as only 24 hours post infection in the red Nile tilapia and in the wild type after 26 days, no mortalities were seen in the species O. mossambicus with this dose. The mortality in red O. niloticus was significantly higher than that of the other two tilapia groups when 12 and 120 CFU/fish were injected. It was also observed that when a dose of 1200 CFU/ml was used, the mortality in O. niloticus wild type was significantly lower than that of the other two tilapia groups and no differences were seen among the 3 groups when the highest dose (1.2 x105 CFU/fish) was used. The median lethal dose (LD50) of O. niloticus wild type was the most stable during the experiment (values around 104 CFU/ml) and the highest of the three groups after day 25 post infection. At the end of the experiment (day 45) the LD50 was 30 CFU/ml in the red Nile tilapia, 2.3x104 CFU/ml for the wild type and 3.3x102 CFU/ml for O. mossambicus. This pattern, where the LD50 of the red tilapia was lower than that of the other two groups, was observed during the whole experiment. The outcomes of these experiments suggested that the red Nile tilapia family appeared to be the most susceptible while the wild type Nile tilapia family the most resistant. The complete genome of STIR-GUS-F2f7 was sequenced using next generation sequencing (NGS) Illumina Hi-Seq platform™, and the annotation of the assembled genome predicted 1970 protein coding sequences and 63 non-coding rRNA sequences distributed in 328 sub-systems. The taxonomy of the species Francisella noatunensis was revised using genomic-derived parameters form STIR-GUS-F2f7 and other strains in combination with a polyphasic approach that included ecologic, chemotaxonomic and phenotypic analyses. The results indicated that STIR-GUS-F2f7 and all the other strains from warm water fish represent a new bacterial species for which the name Francisella orientalis was assigned. Moreover the description of F. noatunensis was emended and the creation of a new subspecies within this taxon i.e. Francisella noatunensis subsp. chilense was proposed. The results of this study led to the development of a highly efficacious vaccine to protect tilapia against francisellosis.
Supervisor: Richards, R. H.; Adams, A.; Penman, D. J. Sponsor: National Council for Science and Technology Mexico (CONACYT)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Francisella noatunensis orientalis ; Vaccine development ; Francisellosis in fish ; Tilapia transcriptomics ; Tilapia bacterial diseases ; Francisella orientalis ; red Nile tilapia ; Tilapia Immunology ; Taxogenomics ; ELISA ; Next generation sequencing ; Bacterial genomics ; Biolog GN2 plates ; Genus Francisella ; Francisella tularensis ; Francisella orientallis ; Nile tilapia ; Fishes Immunology