Food to some, poison to others – honeybee royal jelly & its growth inhibiting effect on EU Foulbrood

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Honeybee colonies (Apis mellifera) serve as attractive hosts for a variety of pathogens providing optimal temperatures, humidity, and an abundance of food. Thus, honeybees have to deal with pathogens throughout their lives and, even as larvae they are affected by severe brood diseases like the European Foulbrood caused by Melissococcus plutonius. Accordingly, it is highly adaptive that larval food jelly contains antibiotic compounds. However, although food jelly is primarily consumed by bee larvae, studies investigating the antibiotic effects of this jelly have largely concentrated on bacterial human diseases. In this study, we show that royal jelly fed to queen larvae and added to the jelly of drone and worker larvae, inhibits not only the growth of European Foulbrood-associated bacteria but also its causative agent M. plutonius. This effect is shown to be caused by the main protein (major royal jelly protein 1) of royal jelly.

TV Vezeteu, O Bobiş, RFA Moritz, A Buttstedt (2016): Food to some, poison to others – honeybee royal jelly and its growth inhibiting effect on European Foulbrood bacteria. MicrobiologyOpen, early online (DOI: 10.1002/mbo3.397)

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