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Int J Food Microbiol. 2008 Jan 15;121(1):27-34. Epub 2007 Nov 4.

Evaluation of standard and new chromogenic selective plating media for isolation and identification of Bacillus cereus.

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  • 1Abteilung Mikrobiologie, Zentralinstitut für Ernährungs- und Lebensmittelforschung (ZIEL), Technische Universität München, 85354 Freising, Germany.


In this study, the performance of two new chromogenic plating media (CBC and BCM) was compared with two standard selective plating media (PEMBA and MYP) recommended by food authorities for isolation, identification and enumeration of Bacillus cereus. The four media types were challenged with a strain set comprising 100 B. cereus isolates from different origins and with different toxigenic potentials (40 food isolates, 40 isolates from food borne outbreaks and 20 clinical isolates). Additionally, the performance of the plating media for analysis of complex samples was assessed using naturally contaminated foods. Our survey showed that the new chromogenic media represent a good alternative to the conventional standard media. Especially, if laboratory staff are not highly trained in identification of B. cereus, the conventional media could lead to substantial misidentification and underestimation of food borne illness caused by B. cereus. However, there are some B. cereus strains that could not even be detected with this new type of chromogenic media. After the fatal misidentification of a highly toxic strain, other methods for a conclusive identification of B. cereus are needed. Sequence analysis of the plcR gene, a pleiotropic regulator of various virulence factors and B. cereus specific enzymes, revealed a significant correlation between atypical colony appearance and specific variances within the plcR gene sequences of those strains. The current concept of selective plating media, utilising PlcR regulated enzyme activities for differentiation purposes, should therefore be reconsidered and research should be geared towards culture independent methods.

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