Send to

Choose Destination
Appl Environ Microbiol. 2018 Aug 1;84(16). pii: e00859-18. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00859-18. Print 2018 Aug 15.

Microevolution of Streptococcus agalactiae ST-261 from Australia Indicates Dissemination via Imported Tilapia and Ongoing Adaptation to Marine Hosts or Environment.

Author information

The University of Queensland, School of Biological Sciences and Centre for Marine Science, St. Lucia Campus, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
Biosecurity Queensland (North Region), Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Townsville, Queensland, Australia.
The University of Queensland, School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences and Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre, St. Lucia Campus, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
The University of Queensland, School of Biological Sciences and Centre for Marine Science, St. Lucia Campus, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia


Streptococcus agalactiae (group B Streptococcus [GBS]) causes disease in a wide range of animals. The serotype Ib lineage is highly adapted to aquatic hosts, exhibiting substantial genome reduction compared with terrestrial conspecifics. Here, we sequence genomes from 40 GBS isolates, including 25 isolates from wild fish and captive stingrays in Australia, six local veterinary or human clinical isolates, and nine isolates from farmed tilapia in Honduras, and compared them with 42 genomes from public databases. Phylogenetic analysis based on nonrecombinant core-genome single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) indicated that aquatic serotype Ib isolates from Queensland were distantly related to local veterinary and human clinical isolates. In contrast, Australian aquatic isolates are most closely related to a tilapia isolate from Israel, differing by only 63 core-genome SNPs. A consensus minimum spanning tree based on core-genome SNPs indicates the dissemination of sequence type 261 (ST-261) from an ancestral tilapia strain, which is congruent with several introductions of tilapia into Australia from Israel during the 1970s and 1980s. Pangenome analysis identified 1,440 genes as core, with the majority being dispensable or strain specific, with non-protein-coding intergenic regions (IGRs) divided among core and strain-specific genes. Aquatic serotype Ib strains have lost many virulence factors during adaptation, but six adhesins were well conserved across the aquatic isolates and might be critical for virulence in fish and for targets in vaccine development. The close relationship among recent ST-261 isolates from Ghana, the United States, and China with the Israeli tilapia isolate from 1988 implicates the global trade in tilapia seed for aquaculture in the widespread dissemination of serotype Ib fish-adapted GBS.IMPORTANCEStreptococcus agalactiae (GBS) is a significant pathogen of humans and animals. Some lineages have become adapted to particular hosts, and serotype Ib is highly specialized to fish. Here, we show that this lineage is likely to have been distributed widely by the global trade in tilapia for aquaculture, with probable introduction into Australia in the 1970s and subsequent dissemination in wild fish populations. We report here the variability in the polysaccharide capsule among this lineage but identify a cohort of common surface proteins that may be a focus of future vaccine development to reduce the biosecurity risk in international fish trade.


Streptococcus agalactiae; aquaculture; epidemiology; evolution; fish; genome analysis

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center