Development of autogenous vaccines for farmed European seabass against Aeromonas veronii using zebrafish as a model for efficacy assessment
Aeromonas veronii bv. sobria is an emerging pathogen for the European seabass cultured in the Aegean Sea (Mediterranean) causing significant problems in the Greek and Turkish aquaculture industry since no licensed vaccine is currently available for the disease. A bivalent vaccine was developed based on two phenotypically distinct strains of the pathogen, PDB (motile, pigment-producing strain) and NS (non-motile, non-pigment-producing). The two strains comprising the bivalent vaccine were evaluated as monovalent products in zebrafish before the seabass trials. Challenges using the homologous or the heterologous strain showed that both vaccines were protective with RPS values ranging between 66 and 100% in zebrafish. The bivalent vaccine was then tested in European seabass following dip or intraperitoneal administration. Efficacy was evaluated separately against both strains comprising the bivalent vaccine. Dip vaccination applied to juvenile seabass of 2.5 g average weight provided protection following challenge tests 30 days post vaccination only in one of the two strains tested (strain PDB, RPS: 88%). This was also the case in the injection vaccination of adult seabass of 60 g average weight where the vaccine was effective only against the PDB strain (RPS: 63%). High antibody titers against both strains were found at 30 and 60 days after intraperitoneal vaccination in the adult seabass. The use of zebrafish as a model for vaccine development for aquaculture species is discussed.