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Going for gold in the detection of honeybee pathogens
  1. Daisuke Takamatsu, DVM, PhD
  1. Bacterial and Parasitic Disease Research Division, National Institute of Animal Health, National Agriculture and Food Research Organization, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0856, Japan
  1. e-mail: p1013dt{at}

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HONEYBEES are not only important because of what they produce; they are also vital pollinators of agricultural crops. Hence, infectious diseases of honeybees have great economic impact worldwide. European foulbrood (EFB) caused by a Gram-positive lanceolate coccus, Melissococcus plutonius, is one of the most important infectious diseases of honeybee larvae. In some areas and under certain conditions, this disease has been known to cause severe losses of brood. As clinical signs of EFB may easily be confused with other diseases or abnormalities in the brood, diagnosis of EFB in the field using only visual inspection is unreliable. Microscopic examination of larval remains for the presence of numerous lanceolate cocci is adequate for the diagnosis of EFB when done by experienced individuals; however, verification of the presence of the agent by confirmatory laboratory methods is required in many cases.

For verification of the presence of M plutonius, immunological techniques are available (Pinnock and Featherstone 1984, Allen and Ball 1993, Tomkies and others 2009). In particular, a lateral flow device for detection of M plutonius in infected larvae is commercially available in some countries, and enables bee inspectors to test for EFB easily in the apiary. Although M plutonius …

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