Abstract

The prevalence of salmonellae in the intestines of the invasive suckermouth catfish Hypostomus plecostomus was assessed in the San Marcos River, just down-stream of its spring-fed headwaters. In 2014, H. plecostomus, sediment, and water samples were collected during 15 sampling events. A combination of semi-selective enrichment and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) revealed the presence of salmonellae in 45% of the fish intestines across the entire year, with a prevalence range of 13–100% per sampling event. Repetitive element sequence-based PCR (rep-PCR) and multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) revealed a high diversity of salmonellae from fish intestine samples at individual sampling times, single or multiple presence of rep-PCR patterns and serotypes within individual fish, and identical rep-PCR patterns and serotypes for different fish within and across sampling events. Overall, 15 serotypes were identified by MLST, with a diversity range between one and seven serotypes per sampling event. Some serotypes were retrieved only once, while others were detected more frequently. A few serotypes were retrieved at several sampling times, nearly evenly distributed over the entire sampling period. Prevalence and diversity were independent of precipitation events, indicating the potential presence of environmental strains that are capable of long-term persistence in the environment.

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