Exploring the Effect of Phage Therapy in Preventing Vibrio anguillarum Infections in Cod and Turbot Larvae

Nanna Rørbo, Anita Rønneseth, Panos G. Kalatzis, Bastian Barker Rasmussen, Kirsten Engell-Sørensen, Hans Petter Kleppen, Heidrun Inger Wergeland, Lone Gram, Mathias Middelboe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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The aquaculture industry is suffering from losses associated with bacterial infections by opportunistic pathogens. Vibrio anguillarum is one of the most important pathogens, causing vibriosis in fish and shellfish cultures leading to high mortalities and economic losses. Bacterial resistance to antibiotics and inefficient vaccination at the larval stage of fish emphasizes the need for novel approaches, and phage therapy for controlling Vibrio pathogens has gained interest in the past few years. In this study, we examined the potential of the broad-host-range phage KVP40 to control four different V. anguillarum strains in Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua L.) and turbot (Scophthalmus maximus L.) larvae. We examined larval mortality and abundance of bacteria and phages. Phage KVP40 was able to reduce and/or delay the mortality of the cod and turbot larvae challenged with V. anguillarum. However, growth of other pathogenic bacteria naturally occurring on the fish eggs prior to our experiment caused mortality of the larvae in the unchallenged control groups. Interestingly, the broad-spectrum phage KVP40 was able to reduce mortality in these groups, compared to the nonchallenge control groups not treated with phage KVP40, demonstrating that the phage could also reduce mortality imposed by the background population of pathogens. Overall, phage-mediated reduction in mortality of cod and turbot larvae in experimental challenge assays with V. anguillarum pathogens suggested that application of broad-host-range phages can reduce Vibrio-induced mortality in turbot and cod larvae, emphasizing that phage therapy is a promising alternative to traditional treatment of vibriosis in marine aquaculture.
Original languageEnglish
Article number42
Issue number2
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).


  • Aquaculture
  • Challenge trials
  • Fish larvae
  • Phage therapy
  • Vibrio anguillarum

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