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Occurrence and Expression of Luminescence in Vibrio cholerae

Grim, Christopher J., Taviani, Elisa, Alam, Munirul, Huq, Anwar, Sack, R. Bradley, Colwell, Rita R.
Applied and environmental microbiology 2008 v.74 no.3 pp. 708-715
Vibrio cholerae, bioluminescence, operon, Bangladesh, Chesapeake Bay
Several species of the genus Vibrio, including Vibrio cholerae, are bioluminescent or contain bioluminescent strains. Previous studies have reported that only 10% of V. cholerae strains are luminescent. Analysis of 224 isolates of non-O1/non-O139 V. cholerae collected from Chesapeake Bay, MD, revealed that 52% (116/224) were luminescent when an improved assay method was employed and 58% (130/224) of isolates harbored the luxA gene. In contrast, 334 non-O1/non-O139 V. cholerae strains isolated from two rural provinces in Bangladesh yielded only 21 (6.3%) luminescent and 35 (10.5%) luxA⁺ isolates. An additional 270 clinical and environmental isolates of V. cholerae serogroups O1 and O139 were tested, and none were luminescent or harbored luxA. These results indicate that bioluminescence may be a trait specific for non-O1/non-O139 V. cholerae strains that frequently occur in certain environments. Luminescence expression patterns of V. cholerae were also investigated, and isolates could be grouped based on expression level. Several strains with defective expression of the lux operon, including natural K variants, were identified.