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J Appl Microbiol. 1999 Oct;87(4):481-90.

Enterotoxigenic profiles and polymerase chain reaction detection of Bacillus cereus group cells and B. cereus strains from foods and food-borne outbreaks.

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Department of Food Science, National Chung-Hsing University, Taiwan, ROC.


Bacillus cereus is one of the important food pathogens. Since B. cereus group cells, such as B. cereus, B. thuringiensis, B. anthracis and B. mycoides, share many phenotypical properties and a high level of chromosomal sequence similarity, it is interesting to investigate the virulence profiles for B. cereus group cells, including B. cereus strains isolated from foods and samples associated with food-poisoning outbreaks. For this investigation, the presence of enterotoxin genes, such as those of haemolysin BL, B. cereus enterotoxin T and enterotoxin FM, were assayed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methods. Meanwhile, their enterotoxin activities were assayed using the BCET-RPLA kit, haemolytic patterns on sheep blood agar and their cytotoxicity to Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells. Results showed that there were 12 enterotoxigenic profiles for the 98 B. cereus group strains collected. In addition, if any of the three types of enterotoxins was present in the B. cereus group cells, these cells were shown to be cytotoxic to the CHO cells. Similar enterotoxigenic profiles could be found among strains of B. cereus, B. mycoides and B. thuringiensis. Thus, all B. cereus group strains may be potentially toxigenic and the detection of these cells in foods is important. We thus designed PCR primers, termed Ph1/Ph2, from the sphingomyelinase gene of B. cereus cells. These primers were specific for all B. cereus group strains and could be used for the detection of B. cereus cells contaminated in food samples.

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