An insight into the antibiofilm properties of Costa Rican stingless bee honeys

L.G. Zamora*, C.J. Beukelman, A.J.J. van den Berg, P.C. Aerts, H.C. Quarles van Ufford, R. Nijland, M.L. Arias

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: There is an increasing search for antibiofilm agents that either have specific activity against biofilms or may act in synergy with antimicrobials. Our objective is to examine the the antibiofilm properties of stingless bee honeys. Method: Meliponini honeys from Costa Rica were examined along with Medihoney as a reference. All honeys were submitted to a screening composed of minimum inhibitory concentration, inhibition of biofilm formation and biofilm destruction microplate-based assays against a Staphylococcus aureus biofilm forming strain. Dialysis led to the isolation of an antibiofilm fraction in Tetragonisca angustula honeys. The honey antibiofilm fraction was evaluated for protease activity and for any synergistic effect with antibiotics on a Staphylococcus aureus biofilm. The active fraction was then separated through activity guided isolation techniques involving SDS-PAGEs, anion exchange and size exclusion fast protein liquid chromatographies. The fractions obtained and the isolated antibiofilm constituents were tested for amylase and DNase activity. Results: A total of 57 Meliponini honeys from Costa Rica were studied in this research. The honeys studied belonged to the Tetragonisca angustula (n=36) and Melipona beecheii (n=21) species. Costa Rican Tetragonisca angustula honeys can inhibit the planktonic growth, biofilm formation, and are capable of destroying a Staphylococcus aureus biofilm. The antibiofilm effect was observed in the protein fraction of Tetragonisca angustula honeys. The biofilm destruction proteins allowed ampicillin and vancomycin to recover their antimicrobial activity over a Staphylococcus aureus biofilm. The antibiofilm proteins are of bee origin, and their activity was not due to serine, cysteine or metalloproteases. There were 2 proteins causing the antibiofilm action; these were named the Tetragonisca angustula biofilm destruction factors (TABDFs). TABDF-1 is a monomeric protein of approximately 50kDa that is responsible of the amylase activity of Tetragonisca angustula honeys. TABDF-2 is a protein monomer of approximately 75kDa. Conclusion: Tetragonisca angustula honeys from Costa Rica are a promising candidate for research and development of novel wound dressings focused on the treatment of acute and chronic Staphylococcus aureus biofilm wound infections. Declaration of interest: The O & O Office of Utrecht University and the Scholarships Office of Universidad Nacional of Costa Rica solely provided financial support for this study. The authors declare there are no conflicts of interest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-177
JournalJournal of Wound Care
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Antibiofilm
  • Melipona beecheii
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Stingless bee honey
  • Tetragonisca angustula


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