The Paenibacillaceae family of bacteria includes two species known to infect the hives of honeybees, Paenibacillus larvae and Brevibacillus laterosporus. P. larvae, the causative agent of American Foulbrood (AFB) causes a lethal infection of honeybee larvae, while B. laterosporus is a secondary invader following European Foulbrood (EFB) infection. Increasing antibiotic resistance of P. larvae bacteria has prompted a search for alternative treatment methods for this disease. Bacteriophages are the most diverse life forms on earth and can provide important insights about the bacterial hosts they infect. However, few Paenibacillaceae phages have been isolated or characterized. In this study, the first B. laterosporus phages are characterized with respect to host range, structural morphology, and sequence similarity. The isolation and characterization of many P. larvae field isolates together with 38 novel P. larvae phages made possible the first broad phage typing study of P. larvae. Phage typing data indicated that P. larvae strains tested could be categorized into one of two groups. Comparative genomics of bacteriophages was made easier by modifying Phamerator to make it broadly accessible and usable to phage researchers throughout the world. Additionally, raw sequencing data can now be used to identify phage DNA packaging strategies that are indicative of a phage’s physical ends. Using these data, phage genomes can be published in an orientation and complementarity that reflects the physical structure of the phage chromosome, providing order and consistency that will benefit all future phage researchers.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Microbiology and Molecular Biology



Date Submitted


Document Type





Paenibacillus larvae, American Foulbrood, honeybees, Brevibacillus laterosporus, bacteriophage, genomics, phage typing, Phamerator, phage packaging strategy, DNA sequencing



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Microbiology Commons