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World J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2014 May;30(5):1453-61. doi: 10.1007/s11274-013-1576-x. Epub 2013 Dec 12.

Bacillus thuringiensis as a surrogate for Bacillus anthracis in aerosol research.

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Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA.


Characterization of candidate surrogate spores prior to experimental use is critical to confirm that the surrogate characteristics are as closely similar as possible to those of the pathogenic agent of interest. This review compares the physical properties inherent to spores of Bacillus anthracis (Ba) and Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that impact their movement in air and interaction with surfaces, including size, shape, density, surface morphology, structure and hydrophobicity. Also evaluated is the impact of irradiation on the physical properties of both Bacillus species. Many physical features of Bt and Ba have been found to be similar and, while Bt is considered typically non-pathogenic, it is in the B. cereus group, as is Ba. When cultured and sporulated under similar conditions, both microorganisms share a similar cylindrical pellet shape, an aerodynamic diameter of approximately 1 μm (in the respirable size range), have an exosporium with a hairy nap, and have higher relative hydrophobicities than other Bacillus species. While spore size, morphology, and other physical properties can vary among strains of the same species, the variations can be due to growth/sporulation conditions and may, therefore, be controlled. Growth and sporulation conditions are likely among the most important factors that influence the representativeness of one species, or preparation, to another. All Bt spores may, therefore, not be representative of all Ba spores. Irradiated spores do not appear to be a good surrogate to predict the behavior of non-irradiated spores due to structural damage caused by the irradiation. While the use of Bt as a surrogate for Ba in aerosol testing appears to be well supported, this review does not attempt to narrow selection between Bt strains. Comparative studies should be performed to test the hypothesis that viable Ba and Bt spores will behave similarly when suspended in the air (as an aerosol) and to compare the known microscale characteristics versus the macroscale response.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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