Submitted to: American Bee Journal
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: June 30, 2009
Publication Date: June 8, 2009
Citation: Murray, K.D., Aronstein, K.A., Eischen, F.A. 2009. Promiscuous DNA and terramycin resistance in American Foulbrood bacteria. American Bee Journal. 149(6):577-581. Technical Abstract: Terramycin (TM) is an antibiotic which has been used for decades to control the bacterial disease of honey bees called American Foulbrood (AFB). Within the past few years however, American Foulbrood bacteria resistant to TM have appeared. Broadly, this work gives an overview of bacterial antibiotic-resistance, reviews the research into the genetic basis for the TM-resistance, as well as discussing the possible sources of the resistance and possible future directions for beekeepers’ fight against AFB. Specifically, we discuss the various resistance mechanisms that bacteria use to counter antibiotics in their environment, and the differences between antibiotic-resistance in bacteria and acquired immunity in higher organisms. We report the way we found a gene in AFB bacteria which imparts TM-resistance, and the role of promiscuous DNA in that resistance. We also discuss the finding of TM-resistance mechanisms in AFB bacteria found by others, which also involves promiscuous DNA, but amazingly, different DNA from the one we found. We speculate on various possibilities for how the TM-resistance genes found their way into AFB bacteria, and on the future of TM for treatment of AFB, as well as alternatives, including the possibility of treatment for AFB bacteria using bacteriophages—viruses which infect bacteria.