Analysis of the 16S-23S rDNA intergenic spacers (IGSs) of marine vibrios for species-specific signature DNA sequences

Simon K. Y. LEE, H. Z. WANG, Sheran H. W. LAW, Shiu Sun Rudolf WU, Richard Y. C. KONG

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Vibrios are widespread in the marine environment and a few pathogenic species are known to be commonly associated with outbreaks of diarrheal diseases in humans due to the consumption of raw or improperly cooked seafood. However, there are also many Vibrio species which are potentially pathogenic to vertebrate and invertebrate aquatic animals, and of which little is known. In an attempt to develop rapid PCR detection methods for these latter class of vibrios, we have examined the 16S-23S intergenic spacers (IGSs) of 10 lesser-known Vibrio species and successfully developed species-specific primers for eight of them - Vibrio costicola, V. diazotrophicus, V. fluvialis, V. nigripulchritudo, V. proteolyticus, V. salmonicida, V. splendidus and V. tubiashii. The IGS amplicons were amplified using primers complementary to conserved regions of the 16S and 23S rRNA genes, and cloned into plasmid vectors and sequenced. Analysis of the IGS sequences showed that 37 ribosomal RNA (rrn) operons representing seven different IGS types have been cloned from the 10 vibrios. The three IGS types - IGS0, IGSIA and IGSGlu - were the most prevalent forms detected. Multiple alignment of representative sequences of these three IGS types from different Vibrio species revealed several domains of high sequence variability, which were used to design species-specific primers for PCR. The specificity of the primers were evaluated using total DNA prepared from different Vibrio species and bacterial genera. The results showed that the PCR method can be used to reliably detect eight of the 10 Vibrio species in marine waters in this study. Copyright © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-420
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2002


DNA sequences
intergenic DNA
nucleotide sequences
Vibrio diazotrophicus
Salinivibrio costicola
Vibrio nigripulchritudo
Vibrio proteolyticus
Vibrio tubiashii
Vibrio salmonicida
Vibrio fluvialis
Vibrio splendidus
ribosomal RNA
diarrheal disease
plasmid vectors
aquatic invertebrates


Lee, S. K. Y., Wang, H. Z., Law, S. H. W., Wu, R. S. S., & Kong, R. Y. C. (2002). Analysis of the 16S-23S rDNA intergenic spacers (IGSs) of marine vibrios for species-specific signature DNA sequences. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 44(5), 412-420. doi: 10.1016/S0025-326X(01)00256-9


  • Vibrios
  • 16S–23S rDNA
  • Intergenic spacers (IGS)
  • tRNA
  • PCR
  • Marine bacteria