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PLoS One. 2014 Feb 20;9(2):e89175. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089175. eCollection 2014.

Effect of bodily fluids from honey bee (Apis mellifera) larvae on growth and genome-wide transcriptional response of the causal agent of American Foulbrood disease (Paenibacillus larvae).

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  • 1Ghent University, Laboratory of Zoophysiology, Department of Physiology, Ghent, Belgium.
  • 2University of British Columbia, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Vancouver, Canada.
  • 3University of British Columbia, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Vancouver, Canada.
  • 4Ghent University, Laboratory of Microbiology, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Ghent, Belgium.


Paenibacillus larvae, the causal agent of American Foulbrood disease (AFB), affects honey bee health worldwide. The present study investigates the effect of bodily fluids from honey bee larvae on growth velocity and transcription for this Gram-positive, endospore-forming bacterium. It was observed that larval fluids accelerate the growth and lead to higher bacterial densities during stationary phase. The genome-wide transcriptional response of in vitro cultures of P. larvae to larval fluids was studied by microarray technology. Early responses of P. larvae to larval fluids are characterized by a general down-regulation of oligopeptide and sugar transporter genes, as well as by amino acid and carbohydrate metabolic genes, among others. Late responses are dominated by general down-regulation of sporulation genes and up-regulation of phage-related genes. A theoretical mechanism of carbon catabolite repression is discussed.

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