The species was first described by Davis (1922), and the name was validated by Bernardet and Grimont (1989).
F. columnare can be identified in the laboratory by a five-step method that demonstrates:
- the ability to grow on a medium containing neomycin and polymyxin B
- production of yellow pigmented rhizoid (root-like in appearance) colonies
- production of a gelatin-degrading enzyme
- binding of Congo red dye to the colony
- production of a chondroitin sulfate-degrading enzyme
The species has been known previously as Flexibacter columnaris, Bacillus columnaris, and Cytophaga columnaris.
F. columnare is one of the oldest known diseases among warm-water fish, and manifests itself as an infection commonly known as columnaris. Infections are the second leading cause of mortality in pond raised catfish in the southeastern United States.
- Bertolini, J. M.; Rohovec, J.S. (1992). "Electrophoretic detection of proteases from different Flexibacter columnaris strains and assessment of their variability". Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 12: 121–128. doi:10.3354/dao012121.
- Durborrow, R. M., Thune, R. L., Hawke, J. P., and Camus, A. C. (1988), 'Columnaris Disease - A Bacterial Infection Caused by Flavobacterium columnare', SRAC Publication, No. 479.
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