No systematic classification of fish-pathogenic vibrios has been accomplished previously despite the use of serological, physiological, and genetical classification systems. In this study, a comparative 16S rRNA analysis of 34 strains (representing seven species) of fish-pathogenic vibrios was performed. The 16S rRNA sequences were obtained by using reverse transcriptase. Nearly complete sequences were obtained for nine strains. On the basis of the results of this analysis, the remaining strains were investigated by analyzing selected stretches containing a total of 560 nucleotides. With the exception of a few strains, including ATCC 43313 (serovar O9), our comparative 16S rRNA analysis confirmed that strains preliminarily identified as were phylogenetically closely related. Strains of could be divided into groups, with the main group containing serotype O1 and O2 strains isolated from Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, turbot, cod, and saithe. The other distinctive group was represented by type strain NCMB 6. This strain was nearly indistinguishable from the type strains of and on the basis of the 16S rRNA stretches compared. The results of a comparative 16S rRNA analysis justified the status of as a distinct species. Originally, this species was characterized biochemically as a very homogeneous species. However, two strains, which were isolated from diseased halibut and from the intestines of healthy cod, could not be distinguished from strains phylogenetically, although they differed from the original species description in several phenotypic traits. Our results indicate that and form a cluster that is clearly separated from the cluster that includes .


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