Feeding Honeybee Colonies with Honeybee-Specific Lactic Acid Bacteria (Hbs-LAB) Does Not Affect Colony-Level Hbs-LAB Composition or Paenibacillus larvae Spore Levels, Although American Foulbrood Affected Colonies Harbor a More Diverse Hbs-LAB Community

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The main current methods for controlling American Foulbrood (AFB) in honeybees, caused by the bacterial pathogen Paenibacillus larvae, are enforced incineration or prophylactic antibiotic treatment, neither of which is fully satisfactory. This has led to an increased interest in the natural relationships between the pathogenic and mutualistic microorganisms of the honeybee microbiome, in particular, the antagonistic effects of Honeybee-Specific Lactic Acid Bacteria (hbs-LAB) against P. larvae. We investigated whether supplemental administration of these bacteria affected P. larvae infection at colony level over an entire flowering season. Over the season, the supplements affected neither colony-level hbs-LAB composition nor naturally subclinical or clinical P. larvae spore levels. The composition of hbs-LAB in colonies was, however, more diverse in apiaries with a history of clinical AFB, although this was also unrelated to P. larvae spore levels. During the experiments, we also showed that qPCR could detect a wider range of hbs-LAB, with higher specificity and sensitivity than mass spectrometry. Honeybee colonies are complex super-organisms where social immune defenses, natural homeostatic mechanisms, and microbiome diversity and function play a major role in disease resistance. This means that observations made at the individual bee level cannot be simply extrapolated to infer similar effects at colony level. Although individual laboratory larval assays have clearly demonstrated the antagonistic effects of hbs-LAB on P. larvae infection, the results from the experiments presented here indicate that direct conversion of such practice to colony-level administration of live hbs-LAB is not effective.

Details

Authors
Organisations
External organisations
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Microbiology

Keywords

  • American foulbrood, Apis mellifera, Beneficial microbes, Bifidobacterium, Intestinal microbiota, Lactobacillus
Original languageEnglish
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2019 Sep 10
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes