Paenibacillus larvae is the causative agent of American foulbrood (AFB), the most serious honey bee brood bacterial disease. We isolated and characterized P. larvae-directed bacteriophages and developed criteria for safe phage therapy. Whole-genome analysis of a highly lytic virus of the family Siphoviridae (HB10c2) provided a detailed safety profile and uncovered its lysogenic nature and a putative beta-lactamase-like protein. To rate its antagonistic activity against the pathogens targeted and to specify potentially harmful effects on the bee population and the environment, P. larvae genotypes ERIC I to IV, representatives of the bee gut microbiota, and a broad panel of members of the order Bacillales were analyzed for phage HB10c2-induced lysis. Breeding assays with infected bee larvae revealed that the in vitro phage activity observed was not predictive of the real-life scenario and therapeutic efficacy. On the basis of the disclosed P. larvae-bacteriophage coevolution, we discuss the future prospects of AFB phage therapy. Copyright © 2015, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
Journal: Applied and environmental microbiology