Diverse origins of tetracycline resistance in the honey bee bacterial pathogen Paenibacillus larvae

J Invertebr Pathol. 2003 May;83(1):46-50. doi: 10.1016/s0022-2011(03)00039-9.


Paenibacillus larvae is the causative agent of the important honey bee larval disease American Foulbrood (AFB). This pathogen has been treated in bee colonies by a single registered antibiotic, oxytetracycline (OTC), for fifty years. Recently, widespread resistance to OTC has been reported. In this study, the degree of antibiotic resistance was contrasted with DNA sequence variation for 125 P. larvae isolates collected in North America. Resistance was uncorrelated with bacterial haplotype, suggesting either that resistance has evolved multiple times in P. larvae or that resistance involves recent horizontal transfer via a non-genomic (e.g., plasmid or conjugal transposon) route. The recency of OTC resistance in P. larvae across this broad survey area underscores the need to manage foulbrood infections carefully and to monitor populations for resistance.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Bacillus / drug effects
  • Bacillus / genetics*
  • Bees / microbiology*
  • DNA, Ribosomal / analysis
  • Haplotypes
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Tetracycline Resistance / genetics*
  • Tetracyclines


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • Tetracyclines