Free access
Volume 40, Number 1, January-February 2009
Page(s) 63 - 72
Published online 19 December 2008
Apidologie 40 (2009) 63-72
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2008060

Development and validation of a novel field test kit for European foulbrood

Victoria Tomkies1, Jonathan Flint2, Gaynor Johnson1, Ruth Waite3, Selwyn Wilkins1, Chris Danks2, Max Watkins4, Andrew G.S. Cuthbertson1, Emanuele Carpana5, Gay Marris1, Giles Budge1 and Mike A. Brown1

1  Central Science Laboratory, National Bee Unit, Sand Hutton, York YO41 1LZ, UK
2  Forsite Diagnostics Limited, Sand Hutton, York YO41 1LZ, UK
3  Pesticides Safety Directorate (Defra), Mallard House, Kings Pool, 3 Peasholme Green, York YO1 7PX, UK
4  VITA (Europe) Limited, 21–23 Wote Street, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 7NE, UK
5  Istituto Nazionale di Apicoltura, Via di Saliceto, 80 – 40128 Bologna, Italy

Received 5 February 2008 – Revised 29 September 2008 – Accepted 2 October 2008 - Published online 19 December 2008

Abstract - European foulbrood (EFB) is a serious and widespread disease of honey bee larvae. It is a notifiable disease in the United Kingdom under existing legislation, so colonies must be officially screened for signs of disease. The current study developed a rapid and sensitive test to diagnose EFB in the field. A monoclonal antibody, highly specific for its causative agent, Melissococcus plutonius, was produced, optimised and incorporated into a Lateral Flow Device (LFD). Laboratory trials of LFDs found them to be very effective, detecting M. plutonius in 96–100% (n = 137) of EFB-infected samples with no cross-reactivity with other bee brood pathogens. Field validation data was equally robust: correct diagnoses were obtained on 96% (n = 184) of samples subjected to LFD-testing on site; false positives were rare (~1%). EFB LFDs are now issued to all Appointed Bee Inspectors in England and Wales as the sole diagnostic tool for routine confirmation of M. plutonius infection in the field, allowing much more efficient disease detection and control.

Key words: European foulbrood / honey bee / LFD / field test / Apis mellifera

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2008