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Microb Ecol. 2012 Aug;64(2):370-7. doi: 10.1007/s00248-012-0023-0. Epub 2012 Feb 28.

The distribution of Francisella-like bacteria associated with coastal waters in Norway.

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Section for Bacteriology, Norwegian Veterinary Institute, Ullevaalsveien 68, P.O. Box 750, Sentrum, 0106, Oslo, Norway.


We report the diversity and distribution of Francisella species in Norwegian coastal and fresh waters following a nationwide survey in which water and sediment samples were collected from locations spanning almost the entire Norwegian coastline. In total, samples were obtained from 149 and 64 seawater and freshwater sites, respectively. DNA extracts from these environmental samples were initially screened by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using Francisella genus-specific 16S rDNA primers. Positive samples were then amplified with genus-specific primers targeting Francisella succinate dehydrogenase A gene and Francisella philomiragia group-specific sequences for the SAICAR synthetase/phosphoribosylamine-glycine ligase gene. Francisella-related bacteria were identified in approximately 30% of seawater sampled sites, mainly in southern Norway, although a single positive sample was identified in the far north of the country. No PCR positives were identified from the freshwater sources. Sequences related to recognised species, both pathogenic and environmental, were identified, with the majority closely associated with F. philomiragia. However, a number of identified sequences probably represent previously undescribed species. Our data provide evidence of a significant background of Francisella spp. in geographical areas associated with outbreaks of fish francisellosis in Norway.

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