is an emerging pathogen causing severe pathology and mortalities in European seabass aquaculture in the Aegean Sea, Mediterranean. More than 50 strains of the pathogen were characterized biochemically and genetically in order to study the epidemiology of the disease, as well as the phylogeny and virulence of the bacterium. Based on the phenotypic characteristics, the isolates form three groups consisting of: (a) the West Aegean Sea, non-motile, non-pigment-producing strains, (b) the West Aegean Sea, motile, and pigment-producing strains and (c) the East Aegean Sea motile strains that produce minute amounts of pigment. All strains were highly similar at the genomic level; however, the pattern of West/East geographic origin was reflected in biochemical properties, in general genomic level comparison and in the putative virulent factors studied. Type VI secretion system was not detected in the western strains. The outer membrane protein (OMP) profile which contains proteins that are putative antigenic factors, was very similar between strains from the different areas. Although most of the OMPs were detected in all strains with great sequence similarity, diversification according to geographic origin was evident in known antigenic factors such as the maltoporin LamB. A systematic comparative analysis of the strains is presented and discussed in view of the emergence of A. veronii
as a significant pathogen for the Mediterranean aquaculture.
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