The Curious Case of Achromobacter eurydice, a Gram-Variable Pleomorphic Bacterium Associated with European Foulbrood Disease in Honeybees


Honeybees are prone to parasite and pathogen infestations/infections due to their social colony life. Bacterial pathogens in particular lead to destructive infections of the brood. European foulbrood is caused by the bacterium Melissococcus plutonius in combination with several other Gram-positive bacteria (Achromobacter eurydice, Bacillus pumilus, Brevibacillus laterosporus, Enterococcus faecalis, Paenibacillus alvei, Paenibacillus dendritiformis) involved as secondary invaders following the initial infection. More than a century ago, A. eurydice was discovered to be associated with European foulbrood and morphologically and biochemically characterized. However, since the 1950s–1960s, only a few studies are known covering the biological relevance of this bacterium. Here, we review the biology, ecology, morphology, and biochemistry and discuss the still unclear systematic classification of A. eurydice.

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Financial support was granted by the German Research Foundation -DFG (ER 786/1-1 to S.E.). Further, we thank Bristol-Myers Squibb and G. E. Budge for sharing information on the origin of the bacteria used in their studies, and COLOSS (Prevention of honey bee COlony LOSSes) for fostering international collaboration between honeybee researchers.

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Correspondence to Silvio Erler.

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Erler, S., Lewkowski, O., Poehlein, A. et al. The Curious Case of Achromobacter eurydice, a Gram-Variable Pleomorphic Bacterium Associated with European Foulbrood Disease in Honeybees. Microb Ecol 75, 1–6 (2018).

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  • Host-parasite interaction
  • Apis mellifera
  • Lactobacillus kunkeei
  • Fructobacillus fructosus
  • Foulbrood
  • Brood disease