Comparative pan-genomic analysis of 51 Renibacterium salmoninarum indicates heterogeneity in the principal virulence factor, the 57 kDa protein

Mónica Saldarriaga-Córdoba, Ruben Avendaño-Herrera

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Renibacterium salmoninarum, a Gram-positive intracellular pathogen, is the causative agent of bacterial kidney disease (BKD), the impacts of which are high mortalities and economic losses for the salmon industry. This study provides novel analyses for the whole-genome sequences of 50 R. salmoninarum isolates and the reference strain ATCC 33209 using a pan-genomic approach to elucidate phylogenomic relationships and identify unique and shared genes associated with pathogenicity and infection mechanisms. Genome size varied from 3,061,638 to 3,155,332 bp; gene count from 3452 to 3580; and predicted coding sequences from 3402 to 3527. Comparative analyses revealed an open, but approaching closed, pan-genome. The pan-genome analysis recovered 4064 genes, with a core genome containing 3306 genes. Phylogenetic analysis of R. salmoninarum showed high genomic homogeneity, apart from one isolate obtained from Salmo trutta in Norway. All genomes presented the 57-kDa protein (p57). Strain ATCC 33209 and the Chilean isolates H-2 and DJ2R presented two copies of the msa gene, while the remaining isolates had one copy. The pan-genome analysis further identified differences in the number of copies and length of the signalling peptide for p57, the principal virulence factor reported for this bacterium. This heterogeneity could be associated with the secretion levels of p57, potentially influencing virulence. Additionally identified were numerous common genes related to iron uptake, the stress response and regulation, and cell signalling—all of which constitute the pathogenic repertoire of R. salmoninarum. This investigation provides information that is applicable in future studies for identifying therapeutic targets and/or for designing new strategies (e.g., vaccines) to prevent BKD infections in salmon farming.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1173-1188
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Fish Diseases
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • BKD
  • fish pathogen
  • renibacteriosis
  • virulence factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • veterinary (miscalleneous)


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