Current Clinical Microbiology Reports

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 26–37 | Cite as

Flavobacteria, a Never Ending Threat for Fish: a Review

  • Thomas Wahli
  • Lone Madsen
Bacteriology (N Borel, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Bacteriology


Purpose of Review

In this review, we summarized the most recent findings on the partial and full genome and the phylogenetic structure of genomovars, as well as on virulence factors, vaccine development, and treatment methods of the two fish pathogenic bacteria Flavobacterium psychrophilum and F. columnare. Both species have a widespread distribution and are the causative agents of devastating diseases of both farmed and wild fish. For minimizing the impact of these infections, knowledge on biology and epidemiology of these pathogens is essential.

Recent Findings

Recent investigations have demonstrated a wide variability with regard to strains and genotypes. For both pathogens, new host species and geographic areas have been identified. For some isolates, a certain degree of host specificity could be demonstrated. Attempts have been undertaken to standardize methods for testing bacteria for resistance to antibiotics. Further, newly developed vaccines and a number of new treatment methods yielded promising results, but fully convincing and generally accepted prophylactic or therapeutic methods are not yet available.


In summary, despite intense research in the two species and considerable increase in understanding the host-pathogen relationship, there is still no generally applicable method to reduce the devastating effect of these bacteria species on farmed and wild fish populations.


Flavobacterium psychrophilum Flavobacterium columnare Genetics Virulence factors Prevention Treatment 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All reported studies/experiments with animal subjects performed by the authors have been previously published and complied with all applicable ethical standards (including the Helsinki declaration and its amendments, institutional/national research committee standards, and international/national/institutional guidelines).


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Fish and Wildlife HealthUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.National Veterinary InstituteTechnical University of DenmarkKgs. LyngbyDenmark

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