, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp 384-389

Isolation and characterization ofVibrio vulnificus inhabiting the marine environment of the southwestern area of Taiwan

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Vibrio vulnificus, a marine bacterium, is of concern in Taiwan because it causes wound infections and sepsis with a high mortality rate every year. To examine forV. vulnificus, 13 samples of seawater or oysters were collected from nine sites in Yunlin, Chiayi, and Tainan. Seventy-seven strains ofV. vulnificus were isolated from 11 samples. Among these environmental isolates, 72 (91%) were indole-positive, a characteristic of biotype 1. The remaining five strains although indole-negative, a characteristic previously found exclusively in biotype 2 strains, were all ornithine decarboxylase- and mannitol-positive, which has never been reported for biotype 2 strains. Based on the overall biochemical reactions obtained using a commercial identification system, these indole-negative strains appeared to be more like biotype 1. Fifty-seven ribotypes were identified among these isolates, indicating the great genetic divergence in this species. Of the 30 environmental isolates tested, 17 (56.7%) exhibited virulence comparable to the clinical isolates in the mouse, implying that a high proportion of theV. vulnificus strains in the marine environments might be pathogenic to humans.