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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2008 May;64(2):209-18. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2008.00460.x. Epub 2008 Mar 18.

Occurrence, seasonality and genetic diversity of Vibrio vulnificus in coastal seaweeds and water along the Kii Channel, Japan.

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Environmental Microbiology Laboratory, Laboratory Sciences Division, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Mohakhali, Dhaka, Bangladesh.


Vibrio vulnificus is a ubiquitous toxigenic bacterium found in a coastal environment but little is known about its occurrence and seasonality among seaweeds, which are widely consumed as seafood in Japan. Therefore, we have observed the bacterium's abundance in seawater and seaweed samples from three areas of the Kii Channel, Japan, during June 2003 to May 2004. A total of 192 samples were collected: 24 from each source in summer, autumn, winter and spring. The samples were selectively cultivated following the most probable number (MPN) technique. Vibrio vulnificus population ranged from 0 to 10(3) MPN 100 mL(-1) seawater or 10 g seaweeds; higher counts were observed during summer. The optimum temperature, salinity and pH for the bacterium were 20-24 degrees C, 24-28 p.p.t. and 7.95-8.15, respectively. However, seaweeds always contained higher V. vulnificus than seawater. Among 280 V. vulnificus strains, detected by species-specific colony hybridization and PCR, 78, 74, 11 and 16 were from seaweeds and 46, 42, 2 and 11 were from seawater during summer, autumn, winter and spring, respectively. Ribotyping of 160 selected strains revealed a higher genotypic diversity (18 patterns) among strains from seaweeds than from seawater (10 patterns). Seaweeds can thus act as a potential habitat for V. vulnificus and are more unsafe for consumption during summer.

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