Microbial Ecology

, Volume 59, Issue 4, pp 646–657 | Cite as

Antimicrobial Resistance of the Coral Pathogen Vibrio coralliilyticus and Caribbean Sister Phylotypes Isolated from a Diseased Octocoral

  • Maria I. Vizcaino
  • Wesley R. Johnson
  • Nikole E. Kimes
  • Katherine Williams
  • Manolito Torralba
  • Karen E. Nelson
  • Garriet W. Smith
  • Ernesto Weil
  • Peter D. R. Moeller
  • Pamela J. Morris
Environmental Microbiology


Vibrio coralliilyticus is a global marine pathogen that has been found to cause disease in several marine organisms, including corals. This study is the first report of the isolation of V. coralliilyticus from a diseased Caribbean octocoral, Pseudopterogorgia americana. Five sister phylotypes were positively identified using 16S rRNA gene sequencing, recA probes specific for V. coralliilyticus, and rep-PCR fingerprinting. The antimicrobial resistance was compared between pathogenic strains of V. coralliilyticus and the Caribbean strains. First, the antimicrobial resistance of V. coralliilyticus-type strain ATCC BAA-450 was determined using an agar-overlay antimicrobial bioassay at 24°C and 27°C, temperatures which are relevant to its known temperature-dependent virulence. From 108 distinct bacteria isolated from P. americana, 12 inhibited the V. coralliilyticus-type strain at 24°C and five at 27°C. Next, the phenotypic comparison of two Caribbean phylotypes and three V. coralliilyticus reference strains against a subset of 30 bacteria demonstrated a similar resistance trend. At both temperatures, the reference strains were inhibited by three bacteria isolates, while the Caribbean strains were inhibited by four to nine bacteria. Additionally, V. coralliilyticus-type strain ATCC BAA-450 and one of the Caribbean strains were inhibited by a higher number of bacteria at 24°C compared with 27°C. Together, these results highlight that V. coralliilyticus strains have antimicrobial resistance to the majority of coral-associated bacteria tested, which may be temperature-dependent in some strains. Furthermore, all V. coralliilyticus strains tested showed multi-drug resistance to a range of 11–16 (out of 26) commercial antibiotics. This study establishes V. coralliilyticus in association with a Caribbean octocoral and demonstrates its resistance to the antimicrobial activity of coral-associated bacteria and to commercial antibiotics.

Supplementary material

248_2010_9644_Fig4_ESM.gif (146 kb)
Fig. S1

Rep-PCR patterns for Vibrio reference strains and Caribbean strains with >97% 16S rRNA gene sequence homology to V. coralliilyticus (GIF 145 kb)

248_2010_9644_MOESM1_ESM.eps (3.9 mb)
High-resolution image (EPS 3992 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria I. Vizcaino
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wesley R. Johnson
    • 2
  • Nikole E. Kimes
    • 1
    • 2
  • Katherine Williams
    • 2
  • Manolito Torralba
    • 4
  • Karen E. Nelson
    • 4
  • Garriet W. Smith
    • 5
  • Ernesto Weil
    • 6
  • Peter D. R. Moeller
    • 1
    • 2
    • 7
  • Pamela J. Morris
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Molecular and Cellular Biology and PathobiologyMedical University of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA
  2. 2.Hollings Marine LaboratoryCharlestonUSA
  3. 3.Belle W. Baruch Institute for Marine and Coastal SciencesUniversity of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA
  4. 4.J. Craig Venter InstituteRockvilleUSA
  5. 5.University of South Carolina at AikenAikenUSA
  6. 6.Department of Marine SciencesUniversity of Puerto RicoMayaguezPuerto Rico
  7. 7.Toxin/Natural Products Chemistry ProgramNOAA National Ocean ServicesCharlestonUSA

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