Inhibitory effect of gut bacteria from the Japanese honey bee, Apis cerana japonica, against Melissococcus plutonius, the causal agent of European foulbrood disease.J Insect Sci. 2014; 14:129.JI
European foulbrood is a contagious bacterial disease of honey bee larvae. Studies have shown that the intestinal bacteria of insects, including honey bees, act as probiotic organisms. Microbial flora from the gut of the Japanese honey bee, Apis cerana japonica F. (Hymenoptera: Apidae), were characterized and evaluated for their potential to inhibit the growth of Melissococcus plutonius corrig. (ex White) Bailey and Collins (Lactobacillales: Enterococcaceae), the causative agent of European foulbrood. Analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences from 17 bacterial strains isolated by using a culture-dependent method revealed that most isolates belonged to Bacillus, Staphylococcus, and Pantoea. The isolates were screened against the pathogenic bacterium M. plutonius by using an in vitro growth inhibition assay, and one isolate (Acja3) belonging to the genus Bacillus exhibited inhibitory activity against M. plutonius. In addition, in vivo feeding assays revealed that isolate Acja3 decreased the mortality of honey bee larvae infected with M plutonius, suggesting that this bacterial strain could potentially be used as a probiotic agent against European foulbrood.