Paenibacillus alvei
Cultural characteristics
Biochemical characters
Phylum Firmicutes, Class Bacilli, Order Bacillales, Family Paenibacillaceae, Genus Paenibacillus, Paenibacillus alvei  (Chesire and
Cheyne 1885) Ash, Priest and Collins 1995, (formerly
Bacillus alvei Cheshire and Cheyne 1885). First isolated in 1885 by Cheshire &
Cheyne from honeybees larvae dead or affected by European foulbrood.        
In 1994 Ash et al.created genus Paenibacillus including
Paenibacillus  alvei.
Cells are 2.2-4.5 / 0.6-0.8 μm, motile (most of them), Gram-stain variable (generally
Gram-positive). Central / sub-terminal, ellipsoidal, deforming, 1.8-2.2 / 0.8 μm spores.
Free spores may lay side-by-side in long rows on the agar. Capsule not present.
In liquid medium produce thin surface film, uniform turbidity.  On agar media produce
1-3 mm diameter, R-type, white-yellowish colonies, with irregular margins and
circular expansions (galaxy aspect). Nonhemolytic on blood agar. Colonies are
actively motile and spread across agar media.
Facultative anaerobe. Maximum growth temperature 35-45 ºC, minimum 15-20 ºC
(optimum 28  ºC). Does not grow at pH 5.7. Grows in 2% NaCl medium; variable
growth in 5% NaCl and no growth in 7% NaCl.
Grows on simple media (Nutritive agar / Nutritive broth).
Isolated from soil, honeybees larvae dead or affected by European foulbrood and
from healthy adult bees.
Is a component of associative flora in European foulbrood, invading dead larvae first infected with Melissococcus pluton (European
foulbrood agent).
Some human infection reports cited: ocular, wound & pulmonary infections in immunosuppressed  organisms; also meningitis in
children (rarely).
  1. Bailey L. (1963) – Infectious disease of honey-bee. Land Books Limited, London.
  2. Gordon R.E., Haynes W.C., Pang C.H. (1973) – The genus Bacillus . Agriculture Handbook No. 427, U.S.D.A., Washington D.C.
  3. Buchanan R.E., Gibbons N.E., Cowan S.T., Holt J.G., Liston J., Murray R.G.E., Niven C.F., Ravin A.W., Stanier R.W. ( 1974) – Bergey’
    s Manual of Determinative Bacteriology, Eight Edition, The Williams & Wilkins Company, Baltimore.
  4. Sorescu Ionut (1998) – Cercetari privind raspunsul imun in principalele boli bacteriene si micotice ale albinei melifere, Apis
    mellifera L. Teza de doctorat, USAMV Bucuresti.
  5. Gilliam Martha, Valentine Diane K. (1976): Bacteria isolated from the intestinal contents of foranging worker honey bees, Apis
    mellifera: the genus Bacillus. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, 28, 275-276.
  6. Buiuc D., Negut M. , 1999. Tratat de Microbiologie Clinica, Editura Medicala, Bucuresti.
  7. Priest F.G., 2009. Genus I.  Paenibacillus  Ash, Priest and Collins 1994. In: (Eds.) P.D. Vos, G. Garrity, D. Jones, N.R. Krieg, W.
    Ludwig, F.A. Rainey, K.-H. Schleifer, W.B. Whitman. Bergey’s Manual of Systematic Bacteriology, Volume 3: The Firmicutes,
    Springer, 269-295.
Positive results for hydrolysis of esculin, oxidase, dihydroxyacetone, casein
decomposition, gelatin liquefaction, starch hydrolysis, Voges-Proskauer test,
catalase, indole production, acid production from glucose & glycerol.

Negative results for citrate utilization, nitrates reduction, phenylalanine, acid
production from arabinose, xylose & mannitol.

Variable results for degradation of tyrosine & hydrolysis of urea.
Paenibacillus alvei in Apis mellifera pupae
(c) Costin Stoica
Culture media
Biochemical tests
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