Isolation and Genetic Characterization of Streptococcus iniae Virulence Factors in Adriatic Sturgeon (Acipenser naccarii)

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The first case of infection of Streptococcus iniae in Adriatic sturgeon (Acipenser naccarii) was recently reported in a raceway system located in Northern Italy. A second episode of infection in sturgeons with absence of mortality and evident clinical signs, was registered in November 2020 in the same farm and is reported in this study. Histopathological changes observed in infected organs are described. The strains isolated in the two episodes were compared using molecular analysis based on PCR, phylogeny and virulence factors analysis. Not all the major virulence factors were detected for the two strains; in particular the strains 78697, isolated in November, lacks cpsD, compared to the strains 64844, isolated in September. Moreover, genetic variations were reported for lctO and pmg genes. These findings let us hypothesize a different virulence of the strains in accordance with clinical findings related to the sturgeons.