Comparative Genomics of 42 Arcanobacterium phocae Strains

Kirsi J. Aaltonen*, Ravi Kant, Nanett Kvist Nikolaisen, Mikkel Lindegaard, Mirja Raunio-Saarnisto, Lars Paulin, Olli Vapalahti, Tarja Sironen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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For the last 13 years, the fur industry in Europe has suffered from epidemic spouts of a severe necrotizing pyoderma. It affects all species currently farmed for fur and causes animal welfare problems and significant losses to the farmers. The causative agent of this disease was identified as Arcanobacterium phocae. Previously, this bacterium has been isolated from seals and other marine mammals, apparently causing wound and lung infections. Attempts at antibiotic treatment have been unsuccessful and the current advice on preventing the disease is to cull all animals with clinical signs. This poses an urgent question regarding possible vaccine development, as well as the need for further understanding of the pathogenicity of this organism. This study compared the whole genomes of 42 A. phocae strains isolated from seals, blue foxes, finnraccoons, mink and otter. The sequences were created using the Illumina technology and annotations were done using the RAST pipeline. A phylogenetic analysis identified a clear separation between the seal strains and the fur-animal-derived isolates, but also indicated that the bacterium readily adapts to new environments and host species with reasonable diversity. A pan- and core-genome was created and analyzed for proteins. A further analysis identified several virulence factors as well as multiple putative and secreted proteins of special interest for vaccine development.
Original languageEnglish
Article number740
Issue number6
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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