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American Foulbrood Disease, caused by the bacterium Paenibacillus larvae, is one of the most destructive diseases of the honeybee, Apis mellifera. Our group recently published the sequences of 9 new phages with the ability to infect and lyse P. larvae. Here, we characterize the genomes of these P. larvae phages, compare them to each other and to other sequenced P. larvae phages, and putatively identify protein function. The phage genomes are 38–45 kb in size and contain 68–86 genes, most of which appear to be unique to P. larvae phages. We classify P. larvae phages into 2 main clusters and one singleton based on nucleotide sequence identity. Three of the new phages show sequence similarity to other sequenced P. larvae phages, while the remaining 6 do not. We identified functions for roughly half of the P. larvae phage proteins, including structural, assembly, host lysis, DNA replication/metabolism, regulatory, and host-related functions. Structural and assembly proteins are highly conserved among our phages and are located at the start of the genome. DNA replication/metabolism, regulatory, and host-related proteins are located in the middle and end of the genome, and are not conserved, with many of these genes found in some of our phages but not others. All nine phages code for a conserved N-acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine amidase. Comparative analysis showed the phages use the “cohesive ends with 30 overhang” DNA packaging strategy. This work is the first in-depth study of P. larvae phage genomics, and serves as a marker for future work in this area.


American foulbrood; Bacteriophage; Comparative genomics; Comparative proteomics; DNA packaging strategy; Endolysin; Large terminase; N-acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine amidase; Paenibacillus larvae; Phamerator; Siphoviridae


Bacteriology | Environmental Health | Microbiology

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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Bacteriophages on 08-05-2016, available online:

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License

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Casey Stamereilers, Lucy LeBlanc, Diane Yost, Penny S. Amy & Philippos K. Tsourkas (2016) Comparative genomics of 9 novel Paenibacillus larvae bacteriophages, Bacteriophage, 6:3, DOI: 10.1080/21597081.2016.1220349

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