Melissococcus plutonius

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Genus Species

Melissococcus plutonius Domain: Bacteria Phylum: Firmicutes Class: Bacilli Order: Lactobaillales Family: Enterococcaceae Genus: Melissococcus Species: Melissococcus plutonius

Description and Significance

Melissococcus plutonius is the aetiological agent of European foul brood, an important disease of honey bees which is found on all continents where Apis mellifera is kept; it also affects A. cerana. European foul brood is on the list of diseases notifiable to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and the disease and pathogen are included in the Invasive Species Compendium for that reason.Studies carried out by Bailey and Collins, published in the early 1980s, concentrated on the taxonomy and reclassification of the causal agent of European foul brood disease. The authors reported that Streptococcus pluton strains isolated from European-foul-brood-infected honeybee larvae in broadly separate parts of the world were all related serologically, and thus represented a fairly homogenous taxon (Bailey and Collins, 1982b). The results of tests indicated that the strains should constitute the nucleus of a new genus, Melissococcus. In the same volume of the Journal of Applied Bacteriology, Bailey and Collins (1982a) announced the reclassification of Streptococcus pluton in the new genus, proposing Melissococcus pluton (White) nom. rev.: comb. nov. as the one species within that genus. Trüper and Clari (1998) corrected the name to Melissococcus plutonius to meet the requirements of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature.


The genome sequence is pictured by this link: The M. plutonius DAT561 genome is a single circular chromosome of 1,847,807 bp, with an average GC content of 31.5%. The chromosome contained a total of 1,531 CDSs, 18 pseudogenes, 55 tRNA genes for all amino acids, and four rRNA operons. In addition, the chromosome harbored four incomplete prophages. The genome contained two plasmids, pMP1 and pMP19, comprising 200,057 and 19,967 bp, respectively, with average GC contents of 29.2% and 30.3%, respectively, and pMP19 was partially sequenced. pMP1 and pMP19 contained 162 and 28 CDSs, respectively, and three pseudogenes were found in the pMP1 plasmid

Cell Structure, Metabolism and Life Cycle

These strains belong to clonal complex (CC) 12, as determined by multilocus sequence typing analysis, and show atypical cultural and biochemical characteristics in vitro compared with strains of other CCs tested. Although EFB is considered to be a purely intestinal infection according to early studies, it is unknown whether the recently found CC12 strains cause EFB by the same pathomechanism.

Ecology and Known Roles in Symbiosis

Honey bees are important to agriculture and horticulture as pollinators, and European foul brood is a very serious and infectious disease (FERA, 2013). The value of pollination is estimated to exceed the value of products from beehives many-fold. Any disease that causes a significant decrease in honeybee population is likely to have an adverse effect on the beekeeping industry and agricultural production. Impact on Habitats. Bee decline will have a significantly negative affect on pollination in habitats that rely on these insects for development. The value of pollination is estimated to exceed the value of products from beehives many-fold. A decline in native bees, such as A. mellifera, due to the spread of European foul brood, will have a negative effect on bee biodiversity. The effect of European foul brood outbreaks on honeybee health will also have a significant impact on honey products and thus the livelihood of beekeepers.

Fun Facts

Impact outcomes Damaged ecosystem services Host damage Negatively impacts animal health Negatively impacts livelihoods Reduced native biodiversity Threat to/ loss of native species Damages animal/plant products Impact mechanisms Pathogenic Likelihood of entry/control Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally Difficult to identify/detect in the field


[Sample reference] Bosch TCG, Guillemin K, McFall-Ngai M (2019) Evolutionary "Experiments" in Symbiosis: The Study of Model Animals Provides Insights into the Mechanisms Underlying the Diversity of Host-Microbe Interactions. BioEssays 41:1800256


This page was authored by Hakias Davis as part of the 2020 UM Study USA led by Dr. Erik Hom at the University of Mississippi.