Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Lawrence, Mark L.

Committee Member

Karsi, Attila

Committee Member

Peterson, Daniel G.

Committee Member

Perkins, Andy D.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Veterinary Medical Science

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Veterinary Medicine


Veterinary Medical Science Program


The U.S. aquaculture industry has become well established in the last three decades, and channel catfish aquaculture is the most significant component of this industry. Virulent Aeromonas hydrophila has been a serious disease problem since 2009 in the U.S. catfish aquaculture, and Aeromonas veronii and Edwardsiella piscicida are emerging pathogens of catfish. Therefore, this study aims to address fundamental questions on virulence mechanisms of these three fish pathogens, which I expect to support the development of control measures for preventing these diseases. In this study, E. piscicida and virulent Aeromonas hydrophila (vAh) genomes were sequenced, and comparative analyses were conducted using the genome sequences. Average nucleotide identity (ANI) calculations showed that E. piscicida strains share high sequence identity, yet they are from diverse host species and geographic regions. vAh isolates share very high sequence identity, while the other A. hydrophila genomes are more distantly related to this clonal group. We applied several comparative genomics approaches to evaluate E. piscicida genomes and E. ictaluri genomes, providing valuable information about unique and shared features of these two important pathogens in the Edwardsiella genus. Comprehensive secretion system analysis of 55 A. hydrophila genomes and deletion of tssD and tssI core elements of T6SS from vAh isolate ML09-119 has provided new knowledge. We sequenced the genome of virulent Aeromonas veronii strain ML09-123 from catfish indicated that it was highly similar to an A. veronii strain from China. Evaluation of all 41 A. veronii genomes available in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) provides a base platform to investigate in detail the molecular mechanism of A. veronii biology and virulence. Lastly, we constructed deletion mutants vAhΔsia, vAhΔent, vAhΔcol, vAhΔhfq1, vAhΔhfq2, and vAhΔhfq1Δhfq2 to determine roles of A. hydrophila secreted proteins and regulatory proteins on virulence in catfish. Results showed that sialidase (vAhΔsia) and enterotoxin (vAhΔent) mutants were significantly attenuated.