Detection and differentiation ofVibrio vulnificus and V. sinaloensisin water and oysters of a Gulf of Mexico estuary

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SummaryVibrio vulnificusis a potentially lethal human pathogen that occurs naturally in estuarine waters and shellfish.Vibrio vulnificuswas quantified in water and oysters from Florida's Gulf Coast by plating on mCPC agar, enrichment and plating, and quantitative PCR (qPCR).Vibrio vulnificuswas detected in 19%, 29%, and 97% of samples respectively by direct plating, qPCR, and enrichment. Only 8% of typical colonies from direct plating were confirmed by PCR forvvhA;others yielded no or atypically sized amplicons. Sequencing of the 16S rDNA of 16vvhA-negative isolates with colony morphology typical ofV. vulnificusidentified 75% asV. sinaloensis. In vitrogrowth curves showed thatV. sinaloensisgrew more rapidly thanV. vulnificusin seawater at temperatures ≤ 30°C. In contrast, the growth rate ofV. vulnificusin alkaline peptone water was greater than that ofV. sinaloensis, suggesting that these species can outcompete one another under conditions that are relevant to environmental parameters or regulatory monitoring regimes respectively. The virulence potential and ecology ofV. sinaloensisare poorly understood; however, its phenotypic resemblance toV. vulnificusand the possibility that it could outcompete the pathogen in warm, estuarine waters argue for the need for a better understanding of this newly describedVibriospecies.

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