Proposal to reclassify Paenibacillus larvae subsp. pulvifaciens DSM 3615 (ATCC 49843) as Paenibacillus larvae subsp. larvae. Results of a comparative biochemical and genetic study.Vet Microbiol. 2004 Nov 30; 104(1-2):31-42.VM
The bacterial pathogen Paenibacillus larvae subsp. larvae (P. l. larvae), is the etiological agent of American foulbrood, an extremely contagious and disastrous disease of honeybee brood. In case of American foulbrood the destruction of infected colonies is often considered the only workable control measure. Therefore, the ability to diagnose this disease properly is important to prevent unnecessary economic loss to beekeepers. The development of suitable methods for the early and reliable detection of P. l. larvae is hampered by the fact that the two subspecies of Paenibacillus larvae, P. l. larvae and Paenibacillus larvae subsp. pulvifaciens (P. l. pulvifaciens), seem to be indistinguishable by cultural characteristics as well as by PCR protocols. Here we present an extensive analysis of several P. larvae reference strains. We employed conventional culture techniques, morphological and biochemical identification, PCR-based methods and sequencing of the 16S rDNA. We found indeed that P. l. pulvifaciens strain DSM 3615 is indistinguishable from P. l. larvae (DSM 7030). We did not face any problems to discriminate between P. l. larvae and P. l. pulvifaciens strains DSM 8442 and DSM 8443. Therefore, classification of DSM 3615 as type strain of P. l. pulvifaciens seems not to be justified. We propose to reclassify this strain as P. l. larvae. Former problems in differentiating the two subspecies might have arisen from this misclassification. PCR-based methods as well as appropriate biochemical identification systems provide a reliable means for the discrimination between the two subspecies P. l. larvae and P. l. pulvifaciens.