Diversity and Geographical Distribution of Flavobacterium psychrophilum Isolates and Their Phages: Patterns of Susceptibility to Phage Infection and Phage Host Range

Daniel Castillo, Rói Hammershaimb Christiansen, Romilio Espejo, Mathias Middelboe

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Flavobacterium psychrophilum is an important fish pathogen worldwide that causes cold water disease (CWD) or rainbow trout fry syndrome (RTFS). Phage therapy has been suggested as an alternative method for the control of this pathogen in aquaculture. However, effective use of bacteriophages in disease control requires detailed knowledge about the diversity and dynamics of host susceptibility to phage infection. For this reason, we examined the genetic diversity of 49 F. psychrophilum strains isolated in three different areas (Chile, Denmark, and USA) through direct genome restriction enzyme analysis (DGREA) and their susceptibility to 33 bacteriophages isolated in Chile and Denmark, thus covering large geographical (>12,000 km) and temporal (>60 years) scales of isolation. An additional 40 phage-resistant isolates obtained from culture experiments after exposure to specific phages were examined for changes in phage susceptibility against the 33 phages. The F. psychrophilum and phage populations isolated from Chile and Denmark clustered into geographically distinct groups with respect to DGREA profile and host range, respectively. However, cross infection between Chilean phage isolates and Danish host isolates and vice versa was observed. Development of resistance to certain bacteriophages led to susceptibility to other phages suggesting that “enhanced infection” is potentially an important cost of resistance in F. psychrophilum, possibly contributing to the observed co-existence of phage-sensitive F. psychrophilum strains and lytic phages across local and global scales. Overall, our results showed that despite the identification of local communities of phages and hosts, some key properties determining phage infection patterns seem to be globally distributed.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalMicrobial Ecology
    Issue number4
    Pages (from-to)748-757
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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