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Indian J Microbiol. 2010 Jun;50(2):165-71. doi: 10.1007/s12088-010-0002-4. Epub 2010 Mar 5.

Multiplex PCR assay for the detection of enterotoxic Bacillus cereus group strains and its application in food matrices.

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Division of Microbiology, Defence Food Research Laboratory, Sidhartha Nagar, Mysore, 570011 Karnataka India.


Bacillus cereus, Bacillus thuringiensis and Bacillus anthracis are the major concerns for the food safety in terms of frequency and/or seriousness of the disease. Being members of the same group and sharing DNA homology to a larger extent, they do create problems when their specific detection/identification is attempted from different food and environmental sources. Numerous individual polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and few multiplex PCR (mPCR) methods have been employed to detect these organisms by targeting toxin genes but with lack of internal amplification control (IAC). Therefore, we attempted a mPCR with IAC for the detection of enterotoxic B. cereus group strains by selecting hbl A, nhe A and cyt K genes from B. cereus, indicative of the diarrheal potential and cry I A and pag genes, the plasmid borne phenotypic markers specific to B. thuringiensis and B. anthracis strains, respectively. Multiplex PCR assay validation was performed by simultaneous comparison with the results of single-target PCR assays and correlated to the classical conventional and biochemical identification of the organisms. The mPCR was able to detect as low as 10(1)-10(2) organisms per ml following overnight enrichment of spiked food samples (vegetable biriyani and milk) in buffered peptone water (BPW). The presence of these organisms could also be detected by mPCR in naturally contaminated samples of rice based dishes and milk. The high throughput and cost-effective mPCR method described could provide a powerful tool for simultaneous, rapid and reliable detection of enterotoxic B. cereus group organisms.


Bacillus anthracis; Bacillus cereus; Bacillus thuringiensis; Toxins; mPCR

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