Occurrence and pathogenic potential of Bacillus cereus group bacteria in a sandy loam

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Abstract

The major part (94%) of the Bacillus cereus-like isolates from a Danish sandy loam are psychrotolerant Bacillus weihenstephanensis according to their ability to grow at temperatures below 7 °C and/or two PCR-based methods, while the remaining 6% are B. cereus. The Bacillus mycoides-like isolates could also be divided into psychrotolerant and mesophilic isolates. The psychrotolerant isolates of B. mycoides could be discriminated from the mesophilic by the two PCR-based methods used to characterize B. weihenstephanensis. It is likely that the mesophilic B. mycoides strains are synonymous with Bacillus pseudomycoides, while psychrotolerant B. weihenstephanensis, like B. mycoides, are B. mycoides senso stricto. B. cereus is known to produce a number of factors, which are involved in its ability to cause gastrointestinal and somatic diseases. All the B. cereus-like and B. mycoides like isolates from the sandy loam were investigated by PCR for the presence of 12 genes encoding toxins. Genes for the enterotoxins (hemolysin BL and nonhemolytic enterotoxin) and the two of the enzymes (cereolysin AB) were present in the major part of the isolates, while genes for phospolipase C and hemolysin III were present in fewer isolates, especially among B. mycoides like isolates. Genes for cytotoxin K and the hemolysin II were only present in isolates affiliated to B. cereus. Most of the mesophilic B. mycoides isolates did not possess the genes for the nonhemolytic enterotoxin and the cereolysin AB. The presence of multiple genes coding for virulence factors in all the isolates from the B. cereus group suggests that all the isolates from the sandy loam are potential pathogens.

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