- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Diseases Table
- Distribution Table
- Risk of Introduction
- Pathogen Characteristics
- Host Animals
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Vectors and Intermediate Hosts
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Social Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Distribution Maps
Don't need the entire report?
Generate a print friendly version containing only the sections you need.Generate report
PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Paenibacillus larvae
Other Scientific Names
- Paenibacillus larvae subsp. larvae (White 1906)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
P. larvae is a rod-shaped bacterium that causes American foul brood (AFB), a destructive disease of honey bee colonies. The origin of AFB is unknown, but it is found worldwide. Bees move spores around the hive and robber bees can assist in the transmission of spores between hives. Beekeepers may also spread the disease by moving equipment from contaminated hives to healthy ones (Lindstrom et al., 2008; OIE, 2013a; Ministry for Primary Industries, 2013).
This disease is on the list of diseases notifiable to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and is a notifiable pest according to DEFRA (DEFRA, 2011; FERA, 2013). The disease and pathogen are included in the Invasive Species Compendium because of the OIE listing.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Bacteria
- Phylum: Bacteroidetes
- Class: Sphingobacteria
- Order: Sphingobacteriales
- Family: Flexibacteraceae
- Genus: Paenibacillus
- Species: Paenibacillus larvae
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
Paenibacillus is a genus of Gram-positive, facultative anaerobic, endospore-forming bacteria. Members of this genus were originally included in Bacillus, until reclassification separated them into a distinct genus in 1993 (Ash et al., 1993).
Paenibacillus larvae causes American foul brood in honeybees (Apis mellifera). Previously, American foul brood and powdery scale disease were considered distinct (Graaf et al., 2006), but this is no longer valid and the pathogenic agents, Paenibacillus larvae subsp. larvae and Paenibacillus larvae subsp. pulvifaciens, were reclassified as one species, Paenibacillus larvae (Genersch et al., 2006), although the subspecies are still referred to in the literature.
DistributionTop of page
American foul brood has a worldwide distribution (D’Alessandro et al., 2007) and cases have been reported in almost all the beekeeping regions of the five continents (Antúnez et al., 2004). It appears to be uncommon or even absent in significant parts of sub-Saharan Africa (Fries and Raina, 2003), but has been reported from some countries there (Hansen et al., 2003).
Studies have shown geographical clustering of different genotypes; for example Peters et al. (2006) reported non-random distribution of five different genotypes in the district of Arnsberg, Germany.
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
P. larvae is already present in most regions where honey bees are kept, but spread on a more local level is still a concern.
It is the spores that are the infectious agent; they can be spread from colony to colony by transfer of wax, queens, combs or honey (OIE, 2013a).
Recent studies have also shown that small hive beetles (Aethina tumida) are vectors of P. larvae and should be considered in control programmes for American foul brood where both pests are present (Schäfer et al., 2010).
Robber bees may enter a hive that has become weakened by AFB infection and take contaminated honey back to their hives, so assisting disease spread to other colonies and apiaries. Studies have shown that transmission of AFB between apiaries can occur within 1 km from clinically-diseased colonies in the absence of robber bees, but over longer distances when they are present (Lindström et al., 2008).
The movement of bees, equipment and supplies worldwide has assisted in spreading bee diseases to all areas where bees are raised (OIE, undated).
Pathogen CharacteristicsTop of page
P. larvae are Gram-positive, rod-shaped, round-ended and spore-forming bacteria. They are only visible under a high-power microscope. They vary greatly in size, being 0.5 μm wide and between 1.5 and 6 μm long; they occur both singly and in chains and filaments. Some strains are motile. Spores contaminate bee larval food and larvae ingest and become infected by the spores. The spores germinate in the larval gut and the vegetative bacteria are nourished by the larvae. Before the vegetative form of the bacterium dies, millions of spores are produced and can be spread to other bees. (OIE, 2013a; Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, undated).
Studies have shown geographical clustering of different genotypes. Peters et al. (2006) reported five different genotypes (AB, Ab, ab, aβ and A) in Arnsberg, Germany in studies between March 2003 and October 2004. Two genotypes were found in one hive and it was reported that the five genotypes were not randomly distributed in the district.
Host AnimalsTop of page
Pathway CausesTop of page
Pathway VectorsTop of page
Vectors and Intermediate HostsTop of page
Economic ImpactTop of page
American foul brood is a serious disease of honey bees worldwide and causes considerable economic losses (Basualdo et al., 2008). This disease has caused a significant decrease in honeybee populations, beekeeping industries and agricultural production (Antúnez et al., 2010). Honey bees are important to the agricultural and horticultural sectors as pollinators -- the value of pollination is estimated to exceed the value of products from beehives many-fold (Delaplane and Mayer, 2000) -- so any disease causing decline in bee populations will have a significant impact on their role in these industries.
Environmental ImpactTop of page
Impact on Habitats
A decline in bee numbers has been attributed to American foul brood, amongst other bee diseases. Bee decline will have a significantly negative affect on pollination within habitats that rely on these insects for development (Delaplane and Mayer, 2000).
Impact on Biodiversity
A decline in native bees due to the spread of American foul brood will have a negative effect on bee biodiversity (Cuthbertson and Brown, 2009).
Social ImpactTop of page
The effect of American foul brood outbreaks on honeybee health will also have a significant impact on honey products and thus the livelihood of beekeepers.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Highly mobile locally
- Has high reproductive potential
- Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
- Reproduces asexually
- Host damage
- Increases vulnerability to invasions
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Negatively impacts animal health
- Negatively impacts livelihoods
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Threat to/ loss of native species
- Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
- Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
- Difficult to identify/detect in the field
ReferencesTop of page
Al-Fattah MAA; El-Awady M; Gelan MI; Barakat OS, 2010. Microbiological and molecular diagnosis of American foulbrood in honeybee (Apis mellifera L.) colonies. Arab Journal of Biotechnology, 13(1):1-12. http://www.acgssr.org/BioTechnology/Volume13N1January2010_files/Full_Paper/001.pdf
Alippi AM, 1992. Characterization of Bacillus larvae White, the causative agent of American foulbrood of honey-bees. First record of its occurrence in Argentina. Revista Argentina de Microbiología, 24(2):67-72.
Alippi AM; Reynaldi FJ, 2006. Inhibition of the growth of Paenibacillus larvae, the causal agent of American foulbrood of honeybees, by selected strains of aerobic spore-forming bacteria isolated from apiarian sources. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, 91(3):141-146. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6WJV-4J6180B-1&_user=3891418&_handle=V-WA-A-W-AW-MsSWYWW-UUA-U-AAZAACEBWW-AACYDVUAWW-ABBZBEEYE-AW-U&_fmt=full&_coverDate=03%2F31%2F2006&_rdoc=3&_orig=browse&_srch=%23toc%236888%232006%23999089996%23618442!&_cdi=6888&view=c&_acct=C000028398&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=3891418&md5=b373781fd57161cbb274352b09176e79
Antúnez K; Anido M; Evans JD; Zunino P, 2010. Secreted and immunogenic proteins produced by the honeybee bacterial pathogen, Paenibacillus larvae. Veterinary Microbiology, 141(3/4):385-389. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/03781135
Antúnez K; D'Alessandro B; Piccini C; Corbella E; Zunino P, 2004. Paenibacillus larvae larvae spores in honey samples from Uruguay: a nationwide survey. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, 86(1/2):56-58.
Antúnez K; Harriet J; Zunino P, 2008. Propolis as a natural alternative for the treatment of hives infected with spores of Paenibacillus larvae, causal agent of American foul brood. (Propóleos como alternativa natural para el tratamiento de colmenas infectadas con esporas de Paenibacillus larvae, agente causal de la Loque Americana.) Veterinaria (Montevideo), 43(171):9-14. http://www.smvu.com.uy
Bastos EMAF; Simone M; Jorge DM; Soares AEE; Spivak M, 2008. In vitro study of the antimicrobial activity of Brazilian propolis against Paenibacillus larvae. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, 97(3):273-281. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6WJV-4PXDM97-3&_user=6686535&_coverDate=03%2F31%2F2008&_rdoc=12&_fmt=full&_orig=browse&_srch=doc-info(%23toc%236888%232008%23999029996%23681109%23FLA%23display%23Volume)&_cdi=6888&_sort=d&_docanchor=&_ct=19&_acct=C000066028&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=6686535&md5=3d5ef480e0dc604256ea13e9d0c02d67
Basualdo M; Figini E; Torres J; Tabera A; Libonatti C; Bedascarrasbure E, 2008. Control of American foulbrood disease in Argentine commercial apiaries through the use of queens selected for hygienic behaviour. Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research, 6(2):236-240.
Cherif A; Rezgui W; Raddadi N; Daffonchio D; Boudabous A, 2008. Characterization and partial purification of entomocin 110, a newly identified bacteriocin from Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. Entomocidus HD110. Microbiological Research, 163(6):684-692. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal09445013
Chirila F; Fit N; Rapuntean S; Nadas G; Nistor AC, 2011. A study regarding the Paenibacillus larvae strains sensitivity isolated from some counties in Transylvania to different antibiotics and vegetal essential oils. Cluj Veterinary Journal, 19(1):60-64.
Cuthbertson AGS; Brown MA, 2009. Issues affecting British honey bee biodiversity and the need for conservation of this important ecological component. International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, 6(4):695-699. http://www.ceers.org/ijest
D'Alessandro B; Antúnez K; Piccini C; Zunino P, 2007. DNA extraction and PCR detection of Paenibacillus larvae spores from naturally contaminated honey and bees using spore-decoating and freeze-thawing techniques. World Journal of Microbiology & Biotechnology, 23(4):593-597. http://springerlink.metapress.com/link.asp?id=100229
DEFRA, 2011. Plant health, bee health and plant varieties and seeds. UK: Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, 12 pp. http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130123162956/http://www.defra.gov.uk/publications/files/pb13507-ep-plant-health-bee-health.pdf
Elzen P; Westervelt D; Causey D; Rivera R; Baxter J; Feldlaufer M, 2002. Control of oxytetracycline-resistant American foulbrood with tylosin and its toxicity to honey bees (Apis mellifera). Journal of Apicultural Research, 41(3/4):97-100.
FERA (Food and Environment Research Agency), 2013. Foulbrood disease of honey bees and other common brood disorders. Sand Hutton, UK: Food and Environment Research Agency, 37 pp. https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/beebase/downloadDocument.cfm?id=7
Genersch E; Forsgren E; Pentikäinen J; Ashiralieva A; Rauch S; Kilwinski J; Fries I, 2006. Reclassification of Paenibacillus larvae subsp. pulvifaciens and Paenibacillus larvae subsp. larvae as Paenibacillus larvae without subspecies differentiation. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, 56(3):501-511. http://ijs.sgmjournals.org
Gillard M; Charriere JD; Belloy L, 2008. Distribution of Paenibacillus larvae spores inside honey bee colonies and its relevance for diagnosis. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, 99(1):92-95. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6WJV-4SNWW9B-2&_user=6686535&_coverDate=09%2F30%2F2008&_rdoc=16&_fmt=high&_orig=browse&_srch=doc-info(%23toc%236888%232008%23999009998%23696660%23FLA%23display%23Volume)&_cdi=6888&_sort=d&_docanchor=&_ct=21&_acct=C000066028&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=6686535&md5=dc637c118f368bf04842bb992c50f6dc
Graaf DC de; Alippi AM; Antúnez K; Aronstein KA; Budge G; Koker D de; Smet L de; Dingman DW; Evans JD; Foster LJ; Fünfhaus A; Garcia-Gonzalez E; Gregorc A; Human H; Murray KD; Bach Kim Nguyen; Poppinga L; Spivak M; Engelsdorp D van; Wilkins S; Genersch E, 2013. Standard methods for American foulbrood research. Journal of Apicultural Research, 52(1):52.1.11. http://www.ibra.org.uk/articles/The-COLOSS-BEEBOOK-American-foulbrood
Graaf DC de; Alippi AM; Brown M; Evans JD; Feldlaufer M; Gregorc A; Hornitzky M; Pernal SF; Schuch DMT; Titera D; Tomkies V; Ritter W, 2006. Diagnosis of American foulbrood in honey bees: a synthesis and proposed analytical protocols. Letters in Applied Microbiology, 43(6):583-590. http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/servlet/useragent?func=showIssues&code=lam
Hadzimuratovic M; Nevjestic A; Rukavina L; Sabirovic M, 1986. Prevalence of bee and brood diseases in Bosnia and Hercegovina in the period 1980-1984. (Stanje rasprostranjenosti bolesti pcela i legla u periodu 1980-1984 godine u Bosni i Hercegovini.) Veterinarski Glasnik, 40(7/8):505-508.
Invernizzi C; Rodríguez JP, 2007. Improvement in the health of the brood in bee (Apis mellifera L.) colonies selected for hygienic behaviour. (Mejora en la sanidad de la cría en colonias de abejas (Apis mellifera L.) seleccionadas por comportamiento higiénico.) Veterinaria (Montevideo), 42(167):9-13. http://www.smvu.com.uy
James RR, 2011. Potential of ozone as a fumigant to control pests in honey bee (Hymenoptera: Apidae) hives. Journal of Economic Entomology, 104(2):353-359. http://esa.publisher.ingentaconnect.com/content/esa/jee/2011/00000104/00000002/art00004
Kloucek P; Smejkal K; Flesar J; Kokoska L; Titera D, 2008. Susceptibility of three Paenibacillus larvae strains to geranylflavonoids from Paulownia tomentosa. In: Proceedings of the Fifth Conference on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants of Southeast European Countries, (5th CMAPSEEC), Brno, Czech Republic, 2-5 September, 2008. Brno, Czech Republic: Mendel University of Agriculture and Forestry in Brno, 34 pp.
Lindström A; Korpela S; Fries I, 2008. Horizontal transmission of Paenibacillus larvae spores between honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies through robbing. Apidologie, 39(5):515-522. http://www.edpsciences.org/journal/index.cfm?edpsname=apido
Maggi M; Gende L; Russo K; Fritz R; Eguaras M, 2011. Bioactivity of Rosmarinus officinalis essential oils against Apis mellifera, Varroa destructor and Paenibacillus larvae related to the drying treatment of the plant material. Natural Product Research, 25(3/4):397-406.
Martínez J; Simon V; Gonzalez B; Conget P, 2010. A real-time PCR-based strategy for the detection of Paenibacillus larvae vegetative cells and spores to improve the diagnosis and the screening of American foulbrood. Letters in Applied Microbiology, 50(6):603-610. http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/loi/lam
Ministry for Primary Industries, 2013. What is American foulbrood? Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry for Primary Industries. http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/faq/term/908/bee-products/15.htm
Näumann G; Mahrt E; Himmelreich A; Mohring A; Frerichs H, 2012. Traces of contamination-well preserved in honey: investigation of veterinary drugs and American foulbrood in honeys of global origin. Journal für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit, 7(1):35-43. http://www.springerlink.com/content/x6048603j860/
OIE (Office International des Epizooties), undated. Diseases of bees. Paris, France: Office International des Epizooties, 6 pp. http://www.oie.int/fileadmin/Home/eng/Media_Center/docs/pdf/Disease_cards/BEES-EN.pdf
OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health), 2013. Manual of Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines for Terrestrial Animals. Paris, France: World Organisation for Animal Health. http://www.oie.int/en/international-standard-setting/terrestrial-manual/access-online/
OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health), 2013. Terrestrial Animal Health Code, edition 22. Paris, France: Office International des Epizooties. http://www.oie.int/international-standard-setting/terrestrial-code/access-online/
OIE, 2009. World Animal Health Information Database - Version: 1.4. World Animal Health Information Database. Paris, France: World Organisation for Animal Health. http://www.oie.int
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, undated. American Foul Brood. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, 2 pp. http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_2_24476_10297_0_43/AgWebsite/Files/Publications/American%20Foul%20Brood.pdf
Peters M; Kilwinski J; Beringhoff A; Reckling D; Genersch E, 2006. American foulbrood of the honey bee: occurrence and distribution of different genotypes of Paenibacillus larvae in the administrative district of Arnsberg (North Rhine-Westphalia). Journal of Veterinary Medicine. Series B, 53(2):100-104. http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/servlet/useragent?func=showIssues&code=jvb
Roussenova NV, 2011. Antibacterial activity of essential oils against the etiology agent of American foulbrood disease (Paenibacillus larvae). Bulgarian Journal of Veterinary Medicine, 14(1):17-24.
Rumanovská K; Mudronová D; Toporcák J, 2011. Alternative methods of prevention of American foul brood - Part III: fatty acids. (Alternatívne metódy prevencie moru vcelieho plodu - III. Casthacek~: mastné kyseliny.) Slovenský Veterinársky Casopis, 36(1):19-20.
Sabaté DC; Carrillo L; Audisio MC, 2009. Inhibition of Paenibacillus larvae and Ascosphaera apis by Bacillus subtilis isolated from honeybee gut and honey samples. Research in Microbiology, 160(3):193-199. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VN3-4W15KTB-1&_user=10&_coverDate=04%2F30%2F2009&_rdoc=5&_fmt=high&_orig=browse&_srch=doc-info(%23toc%236167%232009%23998399996%231143092%23FLA%23display%23Volume)&_cdi=6167&_sort=d&_docanchor=&_ct=11&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=8bb6f9da7045d3a1323c0a064943a4d4
Schuch DMT; Tochetto LG; Sattler A, 2003. Detection of Paenibacillus larvae subsp. larvae spores in Brazil. (Isolamento de esporos de Paenibacillus larvae subsp. larvae no Brasil.) Pesquisa Agropecuária Brasileira, 38(3):441-444.
Schäfer MO; Ritter W; Pettis J; Neumann P, 2010. Small hive beetles, Aethina tumida, are vectors of Paenibacillus larvae. Apidologie, 41(1):14-20. http://www.edpsciences.org/journal/index.cfm?edpsname=apido
Yoshiyama M; Kimura K, 2009. Bacteria in the gut of Japanese honeybee, Apis cerana japonica, and their antagonistic effect against Paenibacillus larvae, the causal agent of American foulbrood. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, 102(2):91-96. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6WJV-4WSRF8C-2&_user=10&_coverDate=10%2F31%2F2009&_rdoc=3&_fmt=high&_orig=browse&_srch=doc-info(%23toc%236888%232009%23998979997%231500151%23FLA%23display%23Volume)&_cdi=6888&_sort=d&_docanchor=&_ct=18&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=92ef191e90c19aff290a7395642c3347
OrganizationsTop of page
World: IBRA, International Bee Research Association, Unit 6, Centre Court, Main Avenue, Treforest, RCT, CF37 5YR, UK, www.ibra.org.uk
World: OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health), 12, rue de Prony, 75017 Paris, France, http://www.oie.int/
UK: British Beekeepers’ Association, National Beekeeping Centre, Stoneleigh Park, Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, CV8 2LG, UK, www.britishbeekeepers.com
ContributorsTop of page
23/03/2012: Original text by:
Dr Claire Beverley, CABI, Nosworthy Way, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, OX10 8DE, UK.
Distribution MapsTop of page
Unsupported Web Browser:
One or more of the features that are needed to show you the maps functionality are not available in the web browser that you are using.
Please consider upgrading your browser to the latest version or installing a new browser.
More information about modern web browsers can be found at http://browsehappy.com/