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J Appl Microbiol. 2002;92(6):1123-35.

Occurrence of pathogenic vibrios in coastal areas of France.

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Ifremer, DEL/MP, Laboratoire de Microbiologie, Plouzané, France.



This study was carried out to investigate the occurrence of potentially pathogenic species of Vibrio in French marine and estuarine environments.


Samples of coastal waters and mussels collected between July and September 1999 were analysed by culture, using selective media including thiosulphate-citrate-bile salts-sucrose and modified cellobiose-polymixin B-colistin agar. Presumptive Vibrio colonies were isolated and identified using selected biochemical tests. Specific primers based on flanking sequences of the cytolysin, vvhA gene, pR72H DNA fragment and 16S-23S rRNA intergenic spacer region (ISR) were used in a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to confirm the identification of Vibrio vulnificus, V. parahaemolyticus and V. cholerae, respectively. In this study, V. alginolyticus (99 of 189) was the predominant species, followed by V. parahaemolyticus (41 of 189), V. vulnificus (20 of 189) and non-O1/non-O139 V. cholerae (three of 189). All 20 V. vulnificus isolates showed PCR amplification of the vvhA gene, 16 of which had been isolated from estuarine water. The PCR amplification of the pR72H DNA fragment in 41 V. parahaemolyticus isolates generated two unique amplicons of 387 and 320 bp. The latter, present in 24.4% of these isolates, had not previously been found in V. parahaemolyticus strains examined to date. Amplification of the trh gene in two of the isolates suggested these to be virulent strains. Three strains identified as V. cholerae by amplification of the 16S-23S rRNA ISR were confirmed to be non-cholera (non-O1/non-O139) strains.


The results of this study demonstrated the presence of pathogenic Vibrio species in French coastal waters. Furthermore, the PCR approach proved useful for the rapid and reliable confirmation of species identification.


These findings indicate the potential sanitary risk associated with the presence of pathogenic Vibrio spp. in cultivated mussels and in the aquatic environment. The PCR can be used to detect pathogenic vibrios directly in environmental samples.

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