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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2005 Mar;71(3):1178-83.

Toxin-producing ability among Bacillus spp. outside the Bacillus cereus group.

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Department of Food Safety and Infection Biology, Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, PO Box 8146, Dep, NO-0033 Oslo, Norway.


A total of 333 Bacillus spp. isolated from foods, water, and food plants were examined for the production of possible enterotoxins and emetic toxins using a cytotoxicity assay on Vero cells, the boar spermatozoa motility assay, and a liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry method. Eight strains produced detectable toxins; six strains were cytotoxic, three strains produced putative emetic toxins (different in size from cereulide), and one strain produced both cytotoxin(s) and putative emetic toxin(s). The toxin-producing strains could be assigned to four different species, B. subtilis, B. mojavensis, B. pumilus, or B. fusiformis, by using a polyphasic approach including biochemical, chemotaxonomic, and DNA-based analyses. Four of the strains produced cytotoxins that were concentrated by ammonium sulfate followed by dialysis, and two strains produced cytotoxins that were not concentrated by such a treatment. Two cultures maintained full cytotoxic activity, two cultures reduced their activity, and two cultures lost their activity after boiling. The two most cytotoxic strains (both B. mojavensis) were tested for toxin production at different temperatures. One of these strains produced cytotoxin at growth temperatures ranging from 25 to 42 degrees C, and no reduction in activity was observed even after 24 h of growth at 42 degrees C. The strains that produced putative emetic toxins were tested for the influence of time and temperature on the toxin production. It was shown that they produced putative emetic toxin faster or just as fast at 30 as at 22 degrees C. None of the cytotoxic strains produced B. cereus-like enterotoxins as tested by PCR or by immunological methods.

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