Identifying copy number variation of the dominant virulence factors msa and p22 within genomes of the fish pathogen Renibacterium salmoninarum

Ola Brynildsrud, Snorre Gulla, Edward J. Feil, Simen Foyn Nørstebø, Linda D. Rhodes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Renibacterium salmoninarum is the causative agent of bacterial kidney disease, an important disease of farmed and wild salmonid fish worldwide. Despite the wide spatiotemporal distribution of this disease and habitat pressures ranging from the natural environment to aquaculture and rivers to marine environments, little variation has been observed in the R. salmoninarum genome. Here we use the coverage depth from genomic sequencing corroborated by real-time quantitative PCR to detect copy number variation (CNV) among the genes of R. salmoninarum. CNV was primarily limited to the known dominant virulence factors msa and p22. Among 68 isolates representing the UK, Norway and North America, the msa gene ranged from two to five identical copies and the p22 gene ranged from one to five copies. CNV for these two genes co-occurred, suggesting they may be functionally linked. Isolates carrying CNV were phylogenetically restricted and originated predominantly from sites in North America, rather than the UK or Norway. Although both phylogenetic relationship and geographical origin were found to correlate with CNV status, geographical origin was a much stronger predictor than phylogeny, suggesting a role for local selection pressures in the repeated emergence and maintenance of this trait.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere000055
JournalMicrobial Genomics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2016


  • copy number variation
  • gene duplication-amplification
  • major soluble antigen
  • p22
  • renibacterium salmoninarum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

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