Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Bert Ely


The genus Vibrio consists of Gram-negative bacteria that possess a curved rod shape and are routinely isolated from estuarine and coastal salt water. Vibrio cholerae, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, and Vibrio vulnificus are the major three species that contribute to human disease worldwide, and a variety of other Vibrio species contribute to persistent problems in the aquaculture and fishing industries. The CDC estimates that vibrios cause 80,000 cases of disease each year in the United States alone, however, this number is thought to be underestimated, since some disease is only self-limiting, meaning patients may not seek medical treatment and have an official diagnosis of vibriosis. Most cases in the United States are caused by V. parahaemolyticus, which infects humans after the consumption of contaminated raw or undercooked seafood, with raw oysters being the primary vector. V. parahaemolyticus typically causes mild gastroenteritis that usually resolves itself in a few days unless the patient is immunocompromised, where more serious infection can occur. V. vulnificus has a much lower incidence of disease, with only about 50-100 cases occurring in the USA annually. However, this organism causes more severe infections, including necrotizing fasciitis and sepsis when introduced into an open wound and typically needs medical intervention. Warmer climates naturally support Vibrio growth, so with climate change on the rise, outbreaks of vibriosis are becoming more prevalent worldwide in all varying latitudes. This study focused on the genome distribution of various Vibrio species to identify the core genes that belong to all members of the genus, how pathogenicity and fitness islands play a role in the ecological persistence of the organism, and how virulence factors shape the overall pathogenicity of Vibrio vulnificus by using an animal model of Zebrafish (Danio rerio).

Included in

Biology Commons