A pleomorphic Gram-negative, motile coccobacillus was isolated from the gills of a wild-caught bluespotted ribbontail ray after its sudden death during quarantine. Strain 141012304 was observed to grow aerobically, to be clearly positive for cytochrome oxidase, catalase, urease and was initially identified as "Brucella melitensis" or "Ochrobactrum anthropi" by Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry and VITEK2-compact(®), respectively. Affiliation to the genus Brucella was confirmed by bcsp31 and IS711 PCR as well as by Brucella species-specific multiplex PCR, therein displaying a characteristic banding pattern recently described for Brucella strains obtained from amphibian hosts. Likewise, based on recA sequencing, strain 141012304 was found to form a separate lineage, within the so called 'atypical' Brucella, consisting of genetically more distantly related strains. The closest similarity was detected to brucellae, which have recently been isolated from edible bull frogs. Subsequent next generation genome sequencing and phylogenetic analysis confirmed that the ray strain represents a novel Brucella lineage within the atypical group of Brucella and in vicinity to Brucella inopinata and Brucella strain BO2, both isolated from human patients. This is the first report of a natural Brucella infection in a saltwater fish extending the host range of this medically important genus.
Journal: Antonie van Leeuwenhoek