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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2001 Apr 13;197(2):223-8.

Psychrotolerant species from the Bacillus cereus group are not necessarily Bacillus weihenstephanensis.

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Department of Pharmacology, Microbiology and Food Hygiene, The Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, P.O. Box 8146 Dep., N-0033, Oslo, Norway.


Twenty-six strains of Bacillus cereus from different sources were determined to be either mesophilic or psychrotrophic by growth at 6 and 42 degrees C. The strains were also screened by two polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methods designed to discriminate between mesophilic and psychrotrophic types. Seventeen of the 26 strains were able to grow at 6 degrees C, but only four conformed to the new psychrotolerant species Bacillus weihenstephanensis. Among the 26 strains were two which caused outbreaks of food poisoning in Norway, and three others that were isolated from food suspected of causing illness. The presence of the gene components encoding production of enterotoxins Nhe, Hbl, EntT and a recently described cytotoxin K was determined by PCR. All the strains possessed genes for at least one of these toxins, and 19 of the 26 strains were cytotoxic in a Vero cell assay. We conclude that there are psychrotrophic B. cereus strains which cannot be classified as B. weihenstephanensis, and that intermediate forms between the two species exist. No correlation between cytotoxicity and the growth temperature of the strains was found.

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