Season-specific occurrence of potentially pathogenic Vibrio spp. on the southern coast of South Korea

Doris Y W Di, Anna Lee, Jeonghwan Jang, Dukki Han, Hor Gil Hur

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Vibrio species are widely distributed in warm estuarine and coastal environments, and they can infect humans through the consumption of raw and mishandled contaminated seafood. In this study, we aimed to isolate and observe the distribution of enteropathogenic Vibrio spp. from environments of the southern coast of South Korea over a season cycle. A total of 10,983 isolates of Vibrio spp. were obtained from tidal water and mud samples over a 1-year period from five sampling sites along the southwest coast of South Korea. We found that Vibrio alginolyticus (n = 6,262) and Vibrio parahaemolyticus (n = 1,757) were ubiquitous in both tidal water and mud year round, whereas Vibrio cholerae (n = 24) and Vibrio vulnificus (n = 130) were seasonally specific to summer. While all V. cholerae isolates were nontoxigenic (non-O1 and non-O139), more than 88% of V. vulnificus isolates possessed the virulence factor elastolytic protease (encoded by vvp). Interestingly, V. parahaemolyticus, which was omnipresent in all seasons, contained the virulence factors thermostable direct hemolysin (encoded by tdh) and thermostable direct hemolysin-related hemolysin (encoded by trh) in larger amounts in June (29 trh-positive strains) and September (14 tdh-, 36 trh-, and 12 tdh- and trh-positive strains) than in December (4 trh-positive strains) and February (3 tdh-positive strains), and virulence factors were absent from isolates detected in April. To understand why virulence factors were detected only in the warm season and were absent in the cold season although the locations are static, long-term monitoring and particularly seasonal study are necessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere02680-16
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Pathogens
  • Vibrio parahaemolyticus
  • Vibrio vulnificus

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