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The fish pathogen Flavobacterium columnare represents four distinct species: Flavobacterium columnare, Flavobacterium covae sp. nov., Flavobacterium davisii sp. nov. and Flavobacterium oreochromis sp. nov., and emended description of Flavobacterium columnare

Lafrentz Benjamin R., Stanislava Králová, Claire R. Burbick, Trevor L. Alexander, Conner W. Phillips, Matt J. Griffin, Geoffrey C. Waldbieser, Julio C. García, Fernanda de Alexandre Sebastião, Esteban Soto, Thomas P. Loch, Mark R. Liles, Kevin R. Snekvik
Systematic and applied microbiology 2022 v.45 no.2 pp. 126293
Flavobacterium columnare, chemotaxonomy, columnaris disease, fatty acids, freshwater fish, microbiology, nucleic acid hybridization, nucleotide sequences, pathogens, phylogeny, sequence analysis, Costa Rica
Flavobacterium columnare is the causative agent of columnaris disease in freshwater fish and four discrete genetic groups exist within the species, suggesting that the species designation requires revision. The present study determined the taxonomic status of the four genetic groups of F. columnare using polyphasic and phylogenomic approaches and included five representative isolates from each genetic group (including type strain ATCC 23463ᵀ; genetic group 1). 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis revealed genetic group 2 isolate AL-02-36ᵀ, genetic group 3 isolate 90-106ᵀ, and genetic group 4 isolate Costa Rica 04-02-TNᵀ shared less than <98.8 % sequence identity to F. columnare ATCC 23463ᵀ. Phylogenetic analyses of 16S rRNA and gyrB genes using different methodologies demonstrated the four genetic groups formed well-supported and distinct clades within the genus Flavobacterium. The average nucleotide identity (ANI) and digital DNA-DNA hybridization (GGDC) values between F. columnare ATCC 23463ᵀ, genetic group 2 isolate AL-02-36ᵀ, genetic group 3 isolate 90-106ᵀ, and genetic group 4 isolate Costa Rica 04-02-TNᵀ were less than 90.84% and 42.7%, respectively. Biochemical and physiological characteristics were similar among the four genetic groups; however, quantitative differences in fatty acid profiles were detected and MALDI-TOF analyses demonstrated numerous distinguishing peaks unique to each genetic group. Chemotaxonomic, MALDI-TOF characterization and ANI/GGDC calculations afforded differentiation between the genetic groups, indicating each group is a discrete species. Herein, the names F. covae sp. nov. (AL-02-36ᵀ), F. davisii sp. nov. (90-106ᵀ), and F. oreochromis sp. nov. (Costa Rica 04-02-TNᵀ) are proposed to represent genetic groups 2, 3, and 4, respectively.