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Secondary Metabolites Produced by Honey Bee-Associated Bacteria for Apiary Health: Potential Activity of Platynecine

Abstract

Secondary metabolites of bacteria associated with honey bees were evaluated as part of an investigation on their potentiality for apiary health. Low molecular weight compounds released into culture filtrates by the four bacterial isolates taken from surface of healthy honey bees were analyzed using time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Only one low molecular weight compound was found in the culture filtrate of each isolate. Bacillus thuringiensis, Bifidobacterium asteroides and Acetobacteraceae bacterium, released into culture filtrates platynecine, a pyrrolizidine alkaloid of plant origin, which, until now, had never been reported as produced by bacteria. Lactobacillus kunkeei produced a 3,5-dinitropyridine, of unknown biological action never associated so far to bacteria. The highest relative concentration of platynecine was detected in B. thuringiensis (100%), B. asteroides and A. bacterium showed a concentration above 50% and below 25% that concentration. An in vitro assay on the potential for controlling the parasitic mite Varroa destructor by the culture filtrates of the three platynecine-producing bacteria was performed. Varroa mite mortality was proportional to the platynecine relative concentration into culture filtrate. Although miticidal activity of B. thuringiensis might be associated to other toxic proteins produced by this species, B. asteroides toxicity toward V. destructor along with the other findings of this study support the hypothesis that platynecine plays a direct or an indirect role in controlling varroa. Findings of this study suggest that secondary metabolites released by honey bee-associated bacteria represent a source of natural compounds to be considered in the challenge for counteracting the colony decline.

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Fig. 1

Source: https://www.chemspider.com/Chemical-Structure.83763.html. Features in Table 2

Fig. 2

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Dr. Rita Resca of Renolab srl and her staff for the analysis of bacterial metabolites. This study was performed within the frame of CREA research facilities by using institutional resources, and partially supported by EU Reg. 1308/2013 of the Italian Ministry of Agriculture 2016–2019.

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MLM: investigation-secondary metabolites; data analysis; writing—original draft. SML: investigation and methodology-bacteria, writing—review & editing. LM: investigation-methodology-honey bees and Varroa.

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Correspondence to L. M. Manici.

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Manici, L.M., Saccà, M.L. & Lodesani, M. Secondary Metabolites Produced by Honey Bee-Associated Bacteria for Apiary Health: Potential Activity of Platynecine. Curr Microbiol 77, 3441–3449 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00284-020-02153-6

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