Bryan D Merrill, Brigham Young University
The spore-forming bacteria Paenibacillus larvae causes American Foulbrood (AFB), a highly contagious disease that is lethal in honey bee larvae. P. larvae is the most serious pathogen affecting honey bees. Its increasing antibiotic resistance has led to more research in characterizing bacteriophages which infect and destroy P. larvae. Of the 13 P. larvae phages that have been described in publications, six have been fully sequenced and are currently available for genomic analysis. To understand how P. larvae phages are related to each other and to other phages, the computer program Phamerator was used to analyze more than 100 phage genomes and group phage genes into “phams” based on similarity. Through analysis of grouped phage genes (structural proteins, terminases, recombinases, etc.) we can better understand in vivo replication strategies and evolutionary history of these P. larvae phages.