A collection of 106 Photobacterium damselae subsp. piscicida strains and 19 Photobacterium damselae subsp. damselae strains, including reference and type strains, were genetically characterized using AFLP. The total genomic DNA of each bacterial strain was digested using restriction endonucleases HindIII and TaqI. Using numerical analysis, six clusters were recognized. The largest cluster (n = 106) contained the majority of the strains tested and consisted exclusively of Photobacterium damselae subsp. piscicida. The Photobacterium damselae subsp. damselae strains fell outside this cluster. DNA-DNA hybridization experiments showed 77% DNA binding between the two subspecies, indicating a close genetic relationship. This clearly demonstrates the applicability of AFLP in studying the taxonomic position of Photobacterium damselae subsp. piscicida. In addition, AFLP proved to be a useful genotypic technique for epidemiological surveys of the pathogen, since it was able to discriminate between Mediterranean and Japanese Photobacterium damselae subsp. piscicida isolates.


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