Complete, closed and curated genome sequences of *Photobacterium damselae *subsp. piscicida isolates from Australia indicate mobilome-driven localized evolution and novel pathogenicity determinants

Despite the recent advances in sequencing technologies, the complete assembly of multi-chromosome genomes of the Vibrionaceae, often containing several plasmids, remains challenging. Using a combination of Oxford Nanopore MinION long reads and short Illumina reads, we fully sequenced, closed and curated the genomes of two strains of a primary aquatic pathogen Photobacterium damselae subsp. piscicida isolated in Australia. These are also the first genome sequences of P. damselae subsp. piscicida isolated in Oceania and, to our knowledge, in the Southern hemisphere. We also investigated the phylogenetic relationships between Australian and overseas isolates, revealing that Australian P. damselae subsp. piscicida are more closely related to the Asian and American strains rather than to the European ones.

We investigated the mobilome and present new evidence showing that a host specialization process and progressive adaptive evolution to fish are ongoing in P. damselae subsp. piscicida, and are largely mediated by transposable elements, predominantly in chromosome 2, and by plasmids. Finally, we identified two novel potential virulence determinants in P. damselae subsp. piscicida - a chorismate mutase gene, which is ubiquitously retained and co-localized with the AIP56 apoptogenic toxin-encoding gene on the pPHDP10 plasmid, and transfer-messenger RNA gene ssrA located on the main chromosome, homologous to a critical-to-virulence determinant in Yersinia pseudotuberculosis.

Our study describes, to our knowledge, the only fully closed and manually curated genomes of P. damselae subsp. piscicida available to date, offering new insights into this important fish pathogen and its evolution.

Authors: Laura Baseggio, Oleksandra Silayeva, Nicky Buller, Matt Landos, Jan Englestädter, Andrew C. Barnes