Bacteria Causing Death In Gropers

Queensland scientists are studying bacteria from crocodiles and cows to understand what is causing it to turn deadly in groper fish in the state’s north.

Since 2007, almost 100 of the protected species have washed up dead on beaches from Port Douglas to Yeppoon.

Scientists are sequencing the genome of bacteria found in groper and comparing it with bacteria found in other creatures.

University of Queensland associate professor Andrew Barnes says it might give an insight into why the bacteria is harmful to the fish.

“We maybe able to identify things that are different between the groper isolates and say, the crocodile or the cattle or even the human isolates as well,” he said.

“That will enable us to formulate ideas about how we might be able to prevent infection in future years.”

Associate professor Barnes says the gene research could lead to a vaccine for commercially grown groper.

“Groper are being developed as an aqua culture species and the most environmentally friendly way of preventing disease in aqua culture, rather than using antibiotics, is by vaccination,” he said.

“If we understand why these strains are virulent in groper, we’ll be able to develop much more effective vaccines to prevent infection in farmed groper.”