• Carnobacterium maltaromaticum;
  • pseudokidney disease;
  • lake whitefish;
  • Laurentian great lakes


Herein we report on the first isolation of a Carnobacterium maltaromaticum-like bacterium from kidneys and swim bladders of lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) caught from Lakes Michigan and Huron, Michigan. Isolates were Gram-positive, nonmotile, facultatively anaerobic, asporogenous rods that did not produce catalase, cytochrome oxidase, or H2S, and did not grow on acetate agar. Except for carbohydrate fermentation, many phenotypic characteristics of lake whitefish isolates coincided with those of C. maltaromaticum, the causative agent of pseudokidney disease. Partial sequencing of 16S and 23S rRNA genes, as well as the piscicolin 126 precursor gene, yielded 97% and 98% nucleotide matches with C. maltaromaticum, respectively (accession numbers EU546836 and EU546837; EU643471). Phylogenetic analyses showed that lake whitefish isolates of this study are highly related, yet not fully identical to C. maltaromaticum. The presence of the C. maltaromaticum-like bacterium was associated with splenomegaly, renal and splenic congestion, and thickening of the swim bladder wall with accumulation of a mucoid exudate. Examination of stained tissue sections revealed renal and splenic congestion, vacuolation and bile stasis within the liver, and hyperplasia within the epithelial lining of the swim bladder. The concurrent presence of pathological changes and the C. maltaromaticum-like bacteria suggests that this bacterium is pathogenic to lake whitefish.