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Title: Epidemiology and genomics of European foulbrood (Melissococcus plutonius) of honey bees
Author: Haynes, Edward George
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2013
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European Foulbrood (EFB) is an important disease of honey bee larvae that has increased in prevalence in recent years, in both the UK and other countries. EFB is caused by the gram-positive bacterium Melissococcus plutonius. To date, most molecular epidemiology studies on M. plutonius have concentrated on developing detection methods, and using these to identify the bacteria in honey bees and honey bee hive products, though recently two genomes of M. plutonius have been published. In this thesis a genome sequence for the Type Strain is generated, and used to draw inferences about the accuracy of the published sequences. Genome sequence for other, field-collected isolates were generated and used to identify mobile genetic elements and to elucidate the evolutionary history of M. plutonius. The genome sequences were also used to design the first strain typing scheme for this pathogen, despite this pathogen being previously described as genetically homogenous. Previously undetectable diversity of M. plutonius is explored at a landscape level, showing geographical structuring of populations of the bacterium both within and among countries. The drivers of the observed structure are investigated, with both anthropogenic movements by beekeepers and natural transmission by bees implicated in the maintenance of M. plutonius population structure. This thesis demonstrates the role of the beekeeper in spreading the bacterium through the sale of live bees and through contaminated equipment. Asymptomatic larvae are shown to be carriers of the bacterium (and to go on to develop disease) and a potential role for social wasps as a vector of the pathogen was discovered.
Supervisor: Helgason, T. ; Young, J. P. W. ; Thwaites, R. ; Budge, G. E. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available