Since 1996, Vibrio parahaemoiyticus serotype 03:K6 and closely related strains have been associated with an increased incidence of V. parahaemolyticus gastroenteritis worldwide, suggesting the emergence of strains with enhanced abilities to cause disease. One hypothesis for the recent emergence of V. porahaemolyticus 03:K6 and related strains is an enhanced capacity for environmental survival relative to other strains, which might result in increased human exposure to these organisms. Therefore, the objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that survival or growth characteristics of clinical V. parahaemolyticus isolates differ from those of nonclinical isolates under different environmental conditions. Twenty- six V. parahaemolyticus isolates selected to represent either clinical or food sources were monitored for either survival following exposure to high magnesium (300 mM) or growth under iron-limited conditions. Isolates in each category (clinical or food) differed widely in survival capabilities following 24 h of exposure to 300 mM Mgn2+. Although 4 of 15 clinical isolates grew better at approximately 0.96 µLM Fen2+ (iron-limited conditions) than at 50 µLM Fen2+ (iron-rich conditions), as an entire group clinical isolates in this study were not more effective at growing under iron-limited conditions than were strains not associated with disease. Within the diverse collection of strains examined in these experiments, neither growth characteristics in low-iron environments nor survival capabilities following exposure to high magnesium concentration were uniformly different between clinical and nonclinical V. parahaemolyticus isolates. Therefore, neither phenotypic characteristic can be used to reliably differentiate potentially pathogenic V. parahaemolyticus strains.



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Reprinted with permission from Journal of Food Protection.

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