Melissococcus plutonius

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Melissococcus plutonius

Domain: Bacteria

Phylum: Firmicutes

Class: Bacilli

Order: Lactobaillales

Family: Enterococcaceae

Genus: Melissococcus

Species: Melissococcus plutonius

Description and Significance

Melissococcus plutonius is a European foul brood that is an important disease of honey bees. It is found on conctinents where Apis mellifera is kept. In 1980, Bailey and Collins had reclassification of the European foul brood disease. It state that the plutonius infect the honeybee larvae in broadly separate parts. In 1982, they introduce the new reclassified name as Melissococcus pluton. Then 1998, Truper and Clari change the name to Melissococcus plutonius to meet 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

The M. plutonius DAT561 genome is a single circular chromosome with an average GC content of 31.5%. It also have 4 rRNA operons, 55 tRNA genes for all the amino acids, 18 pseudogenes, and the chromosome contain a total of 1,531 CDSs. They also have four incomplete prophages. The genome contain two plasmids and three pseudogenes were found in the pMP1 plasmid. The plasmids have an average GC content of 29.2% and 30.3%.n

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


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




Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally

Difficult to identify/detect in the field


Forsgren, E., Lundhagen, A.C., Imdorf, A. et al. Distribution of Melissococcus plutonius in Honeybee Colonies with and without Symptoms of European Foulbrood. Microb Ecol 50, 369–374 (2005).

Jyothis P. Joseph, Amritha V. S.. (2019) Survey and etiology of bacterial brood disease infecting Indian honey bees (Apis cerana indica F.) in Southern Kerala. Journal of Apicultural Research 0:0, pages 1-9.

Kayo Okumura, Rie Arai, Masatoshi Okura, Teruo Kirikae, Daisuke Takamatsu, Makoto Osaki, Tohru Miyoshi-Akiyama. Journal of Bacteriology Jul 2011, 193 (15) 4029-4030; DOI: 10.1128/JB.05151-11

K. Mohan Rao, Sapna Katna, Bachittar Singh Rana, Rakesh Rana. (2015) Thai sacbrood and sacbrood viruses versus European foulbrood of hive bees in India – a review. Journal of Apicultural Research 54:3, pages 192-199.

Oleg Lewkowski and Silvio Erler, Virulence of Melissococcus plutonius and secondary invaders associated with European foulbrood disease of the honey bee, MicrobiologyOpen, 8, 3, (2018).


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.