The occurrence of francisellosis caused by Francisella orientalis sp. nov. (Fo) and columnaris disease caused by Flavobacterium oreochromis (For) is negatively impacting Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) production, especially when high stocking densities are used. A new and innovative bivalent mucoadhesive nanovaccine was developed in this study for immersion vaccination of tilapia against francisellosis and columnaris disease. It was shown to have the potential to improve both innate and adaptive immunity in vaccinated Nile tilapia. It increased innate immune parameters, such as lysozyme activity, bactericidal activity, phagocytosis, phagocytic index, and total serum IgM antibody levels. Additionally, the vaccine was effective in elevating specific adaptive immune responses, including IgM antibody levels against Fo and For vaccine antigens and upregulating immune-related genes IgM, IgT, CD4, MHCIIα, and TCRβ in the head kidney, spleen, peripheral blood leukocytes, and gills of vaccinated fish. Furthermore, fish vaccinated with the mucoadhesive nanovaccine showed higher survival rates and relative percent survival after being challenged with either single or combined infections of Fo and For. This vaccine is anticipated to be beneficial for large-scale immersion vaccination of tilapia and may be a strategy for shortening vaccination times and increasing immune protection against francisellosis and columnaris diseases in tilapia aquaculture.
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