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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2004 Mar 19;232(2):189-95.

Identification of emetic toxin producing Bacillus cereus strains by a novel molecular assay.

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Abteilung Mikrobiologie, Zentralinstitut für Ernährungs- und Lebensmittelforschung (ZIEL), Technische Universität München, Weihenstephaner Berg 3, D-85354 Freising, Germany.


Bacillus cereus causes two types of gastrointestinal diseases: emesis and diarrhea. The emetic type of the disease is attributed to the heat-stable depsipeptide cereulide and symptoms resemble Staphylococcus aureus intoxication, but there is no rapid method available to detect B. cereus strains causing this type of disease. In this study, a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) fragment of unknown function was identified, which was shown to be specific for emetic toxin producing strains of B. cereus. The sequence of this amplicon was determined and a PCR assay was developed on this basis. One hundred B. cereus isolates obtained from different food poisoning outbreaks and diverse food sources from various geographical locations and 29 strains from other species belonging to the B. cereus group were tested by this assay. In addition, 49 non-B. cereus group strains, with special emphasis on food pathogens, were used to show that the assay is specific for emetic toxin producing B. cereus strains. The presented PCR assay is the first molecular tool for the rapid detection of emetic toxin producing B. cereus strains.

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