Vibrio (genus)

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Part of the family Vibrionaceae, Vibrio is a genus of facultatively anaerobic, oxidase-positive, Gram-negative bacteria. They are flagellated and in the shape of curved rods. Most species of the genus are pathogenic, although not all to humans, and there can be nonpathogenic strains within a species. Some Vibrio species are important pathogens of fish and crustaceans, which may be opportunistic pathogens in people with skin wounds.

Another classification is whether they are halophiles, requiring sodium chloride for growth, or are nonhalophilic. The nonhalophilic forms tolerate salt, so a nonpathogenic strain was selected for laboratory quality control of thiosulfate-citrate-bile salts-sucrose (TCBS) culture media selective for pathogenic vibrios. [1]



In man, Vibrio strains can cause potentially fatal gastroenteritis, wound infections, and septicemia.[2]

The epidemic significance of cholera is so great that medical microbiologists split the forms into enteropathogenic V. chlolerae, and the other pathogenic Vibrios. Of the non-cholera forms, in the United States, Vibrio parahaemolyticus is the most frequent source of infection, but Vibrio vulnificus causes 94% of the reported deaths. Since TCBS media are not routinely used for stool cultures, gastroenteritis may be underreported.

Pathology Species Mechanisms
Gastroenteritis Cytotoxin, Hemolysin
Wound infection protease, hemolysin, lipase, DNAase, cytolysin
Septicemia proteases, endotoxic lipopolysaccharide

Wound infection can progress to necrotizing fascitis.[3]

Marine life

Some species are nonpathogenic to humans, but may, such as Vibrio harveyi be pathogenic to marine life. Others are hazardous to humans and fish or shellfish. In a study done in Gudalajara, Mexico, the overall presence of V. parahaemolyticus samples was 45.6%, with 71.4% in fish, 44.0% in oysters, and 27.6% in shrimp.[4]

Control of Vibrio species is a major concern in aquaculture.


  1. Taylor JA, Barrow GI (1981), A non-pathogenic vibrio for the routine quality control of TCBS cholera medium., vol. 34, DOI:10.1136/jcp.34.2.208, at 208-212
  2. Hoi H, Do TH, Ho TT (March 30, 2009), "Vibrio Infections", eMedicine
  3. Gomez JM et al. (July 2003), "Necrotizing Fasciitis Due to Vibrio alginolyticus in an Immunocompetent Patient", Kournal of Clinical Microbiology 41 (7): 3427-3429, DOI:10.1128/JCM.41.7.3427-3429.2003
  4. Torres Vitela MR, Fernández Escartín E., "[Incidence of Vibrio parahaemolyticus in raw fish, oysters, and shrimp[Article in Spanish]]", Rev Latinoam Microbiol. 35 (3): 267-72.Links