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Vibrio cholerae.jpg
Vibrio cholerae
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Bacteria
Phylum: Proteobacteria
Class: Gammaproteobacteria
Véron 1965


The Vibrionaceae are a family of Proteobacteria given their own order. Inhabitants of fresh or salt water, several species are pathogenic, including the type species Vibrio cholerae , which is the agent responsible for cholera. Most bioluminescent bacteria belong to this family, and are typically found as symbionts of deep-sea animals. [1]

Proteobacteria phylum of Gram-negative bacteria

Proteobacteria is a major phylum of gram-negative bacteria. They include a wide variety of pathogens, such as Escherichia, Salmonella, Vibrio, Helicobacter, Yersinia, Legionellales and many other notable genera. Others are free-living (non-parasitic) and include many of the bacteria responsible for nitrogen fixation.

In biology, a pathogen, in the oldest and broadest sense, is anything that can produce disease. A pathogen may also be referred to as an infectious agent, or simply a germ.

<i>Vibrio cholerae</i> species of bacterium

Vibrio cholerae is a Gram-negative, comma-shaped bacterium. The bacterium's natural habitat is brackish or saltwater. Some strains of V. cholerae cause the disease cholera. V. cholerae is a facultative anaerobe and has a flagellum at one cell pole as well as pili. V. cholerae can undergo respiratory and fermentative metabolism. When ingested, V. cholerae can cause diarrhoea and vomiting in a host within several hours to 2–3 days of ingestion. V. cholerae was first isolated as the cause of cholera by Italian anatomist Filippo Pacini in 1854, but his discovery was not widely known until Robert Koch, working independently 30 years later, publicized the knowledge and the means of fighting the disease.

Vibrionaceae are Gram-negative organisms and facultative anaerobes, capable of fermentation. They contain oxidase and have one or more flagella, which are generally polar. Originally, these characteristics defined the family, which was divided into four genera. Two of these, Vibrio and Photobacterium , correspond to the modern group, although several new genera have been defined. Genetic studies have shown the other two original members Aeromonas and Plesiomonas belong to separate families. The family Vibrionaceae currently comprises eight validly published genera: Aliivibrio, [2] Catenococcus, Enterovibrio, Grimontia, Listonella, Photobacterium, Salinivibrio, and Vibrio; although the status of Listonella has been questioned.

An oxidase is an enzyme that catalyzes an oxidation-reduction reaction, especially one involving dioxygen (O2) as the electron acceptor. In reactions involving donation of a hydrogen atom, oxygen is reduced to water (H2O) or hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Some oxidation reactions, such as those involving monoamine oxidase or xanthine oxidase, typically do not involve free molecular oxygen.

Flagellum part of a cell of some organisms

A flagellum is a lash-like appendage that protrudes from the cell body of certain bacteria and eukaryotic cells termed as flagellates. A flagellate can have one or several flagella. The primary function of a flagellum is that of locomotion, but it also often functions as a sensory organelle, being sensitive to chemicals and temperatures outside the cell. The similar structure in the archaea functions in the same way but is structurally different and has been termed the archaellum.

Photobacterium is a genus of gram-negative bacteria in the family Vibrionaceae. Members of the genus are bioluminescent, that is they have the ability to emit light.

Members of this family also synthesize tetrodotoxin (TTX), an ancient marine alkaloid and powerful neurotoxin (Na+ pump inhibitor, 1 mg can kill an adult) that serves to protect members of an order of fishes, the Tetraodontiformes (tetras-four and odontos-tooth), which include the puffer fish (see fugu, raw puffer fish served in Japan). As mentioned above, Vibrionaceae bacteria are in symbiosis with many marine organisms. [3] In the case of the puffer fish, and other marine organisms harboring TTX-producing Vibrionaceae, the symbiosis is an ancient and powerful one, providing protection against predation for the marine organisms that harbor these bacteria, while providing the bacteria a protected environment with plenty of nutrients for growth. TTX and saxitoxin provide good examples of convergent biochemical evolution: both toxins are extremely toxic at low levels, both are Na+ pump inhibitors and both have nearly identical binding constants on the Na+ pump in neurons. [4]

Tetrodotoxin chemical compound

Tetrodotoxin (TTX) is a potent neurotoxin. Its name derives from Tetraodontiformes, an order that includes pufferfish, porcupinefish, ocean sunfish, and triggerfish; several of these species carry the toxin. Although tetrodotoxin was discovered in these fish and found in several other aquatic animals, it is actually produced by certain infecting or symbiotic bacteria like Pseudoalteromonas, Pseudomonas, and Vibrio as well as other species found in animals.

Alkaloid class of naturally occurring chemical compounds

Alkaloids are a class of naturally occurring organic compounds that mostly contain basic nitrogen atoms. This group also includes some related compounds with neutral and even weakly acidic properties. Some synthetic compounds of similar structure may also be termed alkaloids. In addition to carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen, alkaloids may also contain oxygen, sulfur and, more rarely, other elements such as chlorine, bromine, and phosphorus.

Neurotoxin substance poisonous or destructive to nerve tissue

Neurotoxins are toxins that are destructive to nerve tissue. Neurotoxins are an extensive class of exogenous chemical neurological insults that can adversely affect function in both developing and mature nervous tissue. The term can also be used to classify endogenous compounds, which, when abnormally contacted, can prove neurologically toxic. Though neurotoxins are often neurologically destructive, their ability to specifically target neural components is important in the study of nervous systems. Common examples of neurotoxins include lead, ethanol, manganese glutamate, nitric oxide, botulinum toxin, tetanus toxin, and tetrodotoxin. Some substances such as nitric oxide and glutamate are in fact essential for proper function of the body and only exert neurotoxic effects at excessive concentrations.


A characteristic of the family is the broad host range susceptible to infection by vibrios. Pathogens of man, other than V. cholerae, include V. parahemolyticus , a cause of gastroenteritis and V. vulnificus that can lead to acute and fatal septicaemia. Other species of Vibrionaceae are associated with disease in a wide variety of finfish, one of the most notable and commonly occurring pathogens being Vibrio anguillarum , the cause of septicaemia in farmed salmonids such as Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout. [5] Species such as V. tubiashii cause disease in larval stages of Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) while V. harveyi causes luminous vibriosis in penaeid shrimps (prawns). The extent of the host range is seen with species such as V. mediterranei and V. coralliilyticus, which can infect zooxanthellae, the plant symbionts of coral. These species of Vibrio are thought to be a cause of coral bleaching. [6] [7]

Gastroenteritis Inflammation of the stomach and small intestine

Gastroenteritis, also known as infectious diarrhea, is inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract—the stomach and small intestine. Symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Fever, lack of energy and dehydration may also occur. This typically lasts less than two weeks. It is not related to influenza, though it has been called the "stomach flu".

<i>Vibrio vulnificus</i> species of bacterium

Vibrio vulnificus is a species of Gram-negative, motile, curved rod-shaped (bacillus), pathogenic bacteria of the genus Vibrio. Present in marine environments such as estuaries, brackish ponds, or coastal areas, V. vulnificus is related to V. cholerae, the causative agent of cholera.

<i>Vibrio anguillarum</i> species of bacterium

Vibrio anguillarum is a species of Gram-negative bacteria with a curved-rod shape and one polar flagellum. Classified under three biotypes, before scientists discovered that different strains of Vibrio anguillarum could be differentiated using serotypes. Vibrio anguillarum are halophiles that prefer warmer temperatures and neutral pH conditions. Vibrio anguillarum are able to compete for iron before the host can absorb it through iron acquisition mechanisms. It is an important pathogen of cultured salmonid fish, and causes the disease known as vibriosis or red pest of eels. This disease has the ability to impact brackish water, marine water, and freshwater species and may greatly impact cultured salmonid fish. Vibriosis has been observed in salmon, bream, eel, mullet, catfish, oysters, tilapia, and shrimp amongst others. The bacteria is most prevalent in late summer in salt or brackish water and gene transmission is mainly horizontal. Infection in humans is most commonly through the skin, but also through the mouth via contaminated food or water. It is widely distributed across the world. Vibrio anguillarum are damaging to the economy of aquaculture sector and fishing industries.

Related Research Articles

<i>Aliivibrio fischeri</i> species of bacterium

Aliivibrio fischeri is a Gram-negative, rod-shaped bacterium found globally in marine environments. A. fischeri has bioluminescent properties, and is found predominantly in symbiosis with various marine animals, such as the Hawaiian bobtail squid. It is heterotrophic, oxidase-positive, and motile by means of a single polar flagella. Free-living A. fischeri cells survive on decaying organic matter. The bacterium is a key research organism for examination of microbial bioluminescence, quorum sensing, and bacterial-animal symbiosis. It is named after Bernhard Fischer, a German microbiologist.

Vibrio harveyi is a Gram-negative, bioluminescent, marine bacterium in the genus Vibrio. V. harveyi is rod-shaped, motile, facultatively anaerobic, halophilic, and competent for both fermentative and respiratory metabolism. It does not grow below 4 °C. V. harveyi can be found free-swimming in tropical marine waters, commensally in the gut microflora of marine animals, and as both a primary and opportunistic pathogen of marine animals, including Gorgonian corals, oysters, prawns, lobsters, the common snook, barramundi, turbot, milkfish, and seahorses. It is responsible for luminous vibriosis, a disease that affects commercially farmed penaeid prawns. Additionally, based on samples taken by ocean-going ships, V. harveyi is thought to be the cause of the milky seas effect, in which, during the night, a uniform blue glow is emitted from the seawater. Some glows can cover nearly 6,000 sq mi (16,000 km2).

G. Balakrish Nair is an Indian microbiologist. At present, he is the Ag. Regional Adviser, Research Policy and Cooperation Unit, Department of Communicable Diseases, World Health Organization. Before joining WHO, he was the Executive Director of Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), Faridabad, NCR, India. Before joining THSTI, he was working in NICED as the Director. He has also served as the director of Laboratory Sciences Division at the International Center for Diarrhoeal Diseases Research,, Dhaka, Bangladesh.


Aposymbiosis occurs when symbiotic organisms live apart from one another. Studies have shown that the lifecycles of both the host and the symbiont are affected in some way, usually negative, and that for obligate symbiosis the effects can be drastic. Aposymbiosis is distinct from exsymbiosis, which occurs when organisms are recently separated from a symbiotic association. Because symbionts can be vertically transmitted from parent to offspring or horizontally transmitted from the environment, the presence of an aposymbiotic state suggests that transmission of the symbiont is horizontal. A classical example of a symbiotic relationship with an aposymbiotic state is the Hawaiian bobtail squid Euprymna scolopes and the bioluminescent bacteria Vibrio fischeri. While the nocturnal squid hunts, the bacteria emit light of similar intensity of the moon which camouflages the squid from predators. Juveniles are colonized within hours of hatching and Vibrio must outcompete other bacteria in the seawater through a system of recognition and infection.

<i>Euprymna scolopes</i> species of mollusc

Euprymna scolopes, also known as the Hawaiian bobtail squid, is a species of bobtail squid in the family Sepiolidae native to the central Pacific Ocean, where it occurs in shallow coastal waters off the Hawaiian Islands and Midway Island. The type specimen was collected off the Hawaiian Islands and is deposited at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C..

Spot 42 RNA

Spot 42 RNA is a regulatory non-coding bacterial small RNA encoded by the spf gene. Spf is found in gammaproteobacteria and the majority of experimental work on Spot42 has been performed in Escherichia coli and recently in Aliivibrio salmonicida. In the cell Spot42 plays essential roles as a regulator in carbohydrate metabolism and uptake, and its expression is activated by glucose, and inhibited by the cAMP-CRP complex.

<i>Photobacterium profundum</i> species of bacterium

Photobacterium profundum is a deep sea Gammaproteobacterium, belonging to the family Vibrionaceae and genus Photobacterium. Like other members of this genus, P. profundum is a marine organism and has two circular chromosomes. P. profundum is a gram-negative rod with the ability for growth at temperatures from 0 °C to 25 °C and pressures from 0.1 MPa to 70 MPa depending on the strain. It has a requirement for salt, is able to metabolise a wide range of simple and complex carbohydrates and has two flagella systems. Cells are rod shape, 2-4μm long and 0.8-1.0μm wide, with a single unsheathed flagella. This bacterium was originally isolated in 1986 from the Sulu Sea and there are currently 4 cultured wild-type strains of P. profundum,.

Thiosulfate-citrate-bile salts-sucrose agar, or TCBS agar, is a type of selective agar culture plate that is used in microbiology laboratories to isolate Vibrio species. TCBS agar is highly selective for the isolation of V. cholerae and V. parahaemolyticus as well as other Vibrio species. TCBS agar contains high concentrations of sodium thiosulfate and sodium citrate to inhibit the growth of Enterobacteriaceae. Inhibition of Gram-positive bacteria is achieved by the incorporation of ox gall, which is a naturally occurring substance containing a mixture of bile salts and sodium cholate, a pure bile salt. Sodium thiosulfate also serves as a sulfur source and its presence, in combination with ferric citrate, allows for the easy detection of hydrogen sulfide production. Saccharose (sucrose) is included as a fermentable carbohydrate for metabolism by Vibrio species. The alkaline pH of the medium enhances the recovery of V. cholerae and inhibits the growth of others. Thymol blue and bromothymol blue are included as indicators of pH changes.

Viable but nonculturable

Viable but nonculturable (VBNC) bacteria refers to bacteria that are in a state of very low metabolic activity and do not divide, but are alive and have the ability to become culturable once resuscitated.

<i>Zosimus aeneus</i> species of crustacean

Zosimus aeneus is a species of crab that lives on coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific from East Africa to Hawaii. It grows to a size of 60 mm × 90 mm and has distinctive patterns of brownish blotches on a paler background. It is potentially lethal due to the presence in its flesh and shell of the neurotoxins tetrodotoxin and saxitoxin.

<i>Aliivibrio</i> genus of bacteria

Aliivibrio is a genus in the phylum Proteobacteria (Bacteria).

Bioluminescent bacteria Bacteria that produce light through chemiluminescence

Bioluminescent bacteria are light-producing bacteria that are predominantly present in sea water, marine sediments, the surface of decomposing fish and in the gut of marine animals. While not as common, bacterial bioluminescence is also found in terrestrial and freshwater bacteria. These bacteria may be free living or in symbiosis with animals such as the Hawaiian Bobtail squid or terrestrial nematodes. The host organisms provide these bacteria a safe home and sufficient nutrition. In exchange, the hosts use the light produced by the bacteria for camouflage, prey and/or mate attraction. Bioluminescent bacteria have evolved symbiotic relationships with other organisms in which both participants benefit close to equally. Another possible reason bacteria use luminescence reaction is for quorum sensing, an ability to regulate gene expression in response to bacterial cell density.

Blautia obeum is a species of anaerobic, gram-positive bacteria found in the gut.

Vibrio aerogenes is a gram-negative organism that is rod-shaped and has a two-sheathed flagella that is found on one side of the cell that makes it motile. When it is grown on polypeptone-yeast (PY) plate medium, the colonies are usually round and flat. It is an organism that is mesophilic which means it likes temperatures that are between 20-45°C. In addition, it is facultatively anaerobic, which means it can survive with or without oxygen. This is a marine bacteria that is most commonly found in temperatures between 30°C and 35°C and pH 6-7. It requires Na+ to grow and this is what makes the marine environment a necessity for this organism. V. aerogenes can ferment glucose and a few other carbohydrates to yield organic acids.


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