Edwardsiellosis caused by Edwardsiella ictaluri in laboratory populations of Zebrafish Danio rerio

John P. Hawke, Michael Kent, Matt Rogge, Wes Baumgartner, Judy Wiles, Johnny Shelley, L. Christine Savolainen, Robert Wagner, Katy Murray, Tracy S. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report the first cases of Edwardsiella ictaluri causing epizootics in laboratory populations of Zebrafish Danio rerio. Edwardsiella ictaluri is primarily recognized as a disease of catfish species and is known to cause an economically important bacterial disease of farm-raised catfish in the USA and abroad; however, it has been isolated on occasion from 10 other genera of nonictalurid fishes. We isolated E. ictaluri from moribund Zebrafish held in quarantine at two different universities in two states and from a research facility in a third state between February 23 and December 6, 2011. Edwardsiellosis in Zebrafish can be described as a severe systemic disease characterized by tissue necrosis and the presence of large numbers of extracellular and intracellular bacteria, of ten within macrophages. The kidneys (pronephros and mesonephros), spleen, nares, and forebrain were the most commonly and severely affected tissues. In outbreaks, mortality was acute and numerous fish died over a 1-2 week period. Mortality continued until the majority of the population was lost, at which time the remaining fish were euthanized. In addition to these cases, four cultures of bacteria isolated from Zebrafish by another diagnostic laboratory were submitted to the Louisiana Aquatic Diagnostic Laboratory for identification and were confirmed as E. ictaluri. In total, eight cultures of E. ictaluri from Zebrafish from Louisiana, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Florida were identified. The isolates were confirmed as E. ictaluri by biochemical phenotype, API 20E (bioMérieux), and amplification and sequencing of a portion of the 16S rRNA gene. Edwardsiella ictaluri isolates from Zebrafish are believed to comprise a unique group and were differentiated from catfish isolates by exhibiting weaker motility, autoaggregation in broth, a different plasmid profile (two plasmids of 4.0 and 3.5 kb), a different API 20E code (4204000), and lack of lipopolysaccharide recognition with Mab Ed9.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-183
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Aquatic Animal Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science


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