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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2007 Mar;73(6):1892-8. Epub 2007 Jan 26.

Diagnostic real-time PCR assays for the detection of emetic Bacillus cereus strains in foods and recent food-borne outbreaks.

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  • 1Abt. Mikrobiologie/ZIEL, TUM, Weihenstephaner Berg 3, 85354 Freising, Germany.


Cereulide-producing Bacillus cereus can cause an emetic type of food-borne disease that mimics the symptoms provoked by Staphylococcus aureus. Based on the recently discovered genetic background for cereulide formation, a novel 5' nuclease (TaqMan) real-time PCR assay was developed to provide a rapid and sensitive method for the specific detection of emetic B. cereus in food. The TaqMan assay includes an internal amplification control and primers and a probe designed to target a highly specific part of the cereulide synthetase genes. Additionally, a specific SYBR green I assay was developed and extended to create a duplex SYBR green I assay for the one-step identification and discrimination of the two emesis-causing food pathogens B. cereus and S. aureus. The inclusivity and exclusivity of the assay were assessed using a panel of 100 strains, including 23 emetic B. cereus and 14 S. aureus strains. Different methods for DNA isolation from artificially contaminated foods were evaluated, and established real-time assays were used to analyze two recent emetic food poisonings in southern Germany. One of the food-borne outbreaks included 17 children visiting a day care center who vomited after consuming a reheated rice dish, collapsed, and were hospitalized; the other case concerned a single food-poisoning incident occurring after consumption of cauliflower. Within 2 h, the etiological agent of these food poisonings was identified as emetic B. cereus by using the real-time PCR assay.

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