Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Bee Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #346266

Title: Molecular detection of melissococcus plutonius assessed in africanized honey bee populations (Apis mellifera) in three regions of Colombia

item TIBATA, VICTOR - National University Of Colombia
item JUNCA, HOWARD - National University Of Colombia
item SANCHEZ, ANDRES - National University Of Colombia
item Corona, Miguel
item ARIZA, MANUEL - National University Of Colombia
item FIGUEROA, JUDITH - National University Of Colombia

Submitted to: Journal of Apicultural Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/1/2018
Publication Date: 3/6/2018
Citation: Tibata, V.M., Junca, H., Sanchez, A., Corona, M.V., Ariza, M.F., Figueroa, J. 2018. Molecular detection of melissococcus plutonius assessed in africanized honey bee populations (Apis mellifera) in three regions of Colombia. Journal of Apicultural Research. 57(3):418-424.

Interpretive Summary: In Colombia, beekeepers mainly use Africanized hybrids that are considered more resistant to diseases. In addition, there have been no reports of losses of larval and adult bee populations in the country. However, there is no official diagnostic system to detect the presence of pathogenic bacteria for Apis mellifera, such as Melissococcus plutonius, and Paenibacillus larvae, the causes of European foulbrood and American foulbrood, respectively. In order to improve this situation, a large-scale study was conducted in 491 hives from 5400 of three of the most beekeeping producing regions of the country; to detect and determine the prevalence of these pathogens in larval samples, by means of techniques of conventional and real-time PCR. Of the two bacteria, only Melissococcus plutonius was detected in 7 of the 491 larval samples in all three regions (1.4%). During sampling there was no evidence of symptoms consistent with European or American foulbrood. The findings of this study constitute the first detection report of M. plutonius and non-detection of P. larvae, information that has bearing on resistance of different honey bee varieties found in the United States as well as South America. This information will be helpful for honey bee breeders and those studying honey bee traits.

Technical Abstract: Honey bees in the Northern hemisphere have suffered great losses in recent years. In contrast, no significant losses have been reported in Colombia. Beekeepers in Colombia employ mainly Africanized hybrid bees, which are expected to be more resistant to parasites and diseases because they not receive treatments against them. In this report we performed a large-scale study to investigate for the first time in Colombia the prevalence of Paenibacillus larvae and Melissococcus plutonius. This pathogenic bacteria cause European and American foulbrood, two of the most important bacterial diseases in honey bees. We found that Africanized bees have very low prevalence of Melissococcus plutonius and were unable to detect Paenibacillus larvae. The low prevalence of pathogenic bacteria in Africanized bees could reveal increase resistance to the infections. Taken together with our recent reports of low prevalence of pathogens such as Varroa and Nosema, these results are consistent with the hypothesis that the extended absence of antibiotic and pesticides treatments lead to a selection for increased resistance to diseases and parasites in Africanized honey bees. These studies is of relevance for the American beekeeping industry because suggest that genetic selection of local populations of honey bees is a viable strategy to deal with the main parasites and diseases threatening the survival of the honey bee population in our country.