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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2014 Apr;353(2):124-31. doi: 10.1111/1574-6968.12423. Epub 2014 Mar 31.

Diversity of pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns of cereulide-producing isolates of Bacillus cereus and Bacillus weihenstephanensis.

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Laboratory of Food and Environmental Microbiology, Earth and Life Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.


Bacillus cereus is an important foodborne pathogen causing diarrhoea, emesis and in, rare cases, lethal poisonings. The emetic syndrome is caused by cereulide, a heat-stable toxin. Originally considered as a rather homogenous group, the emetic strains have since been shown to display some diversity, including the existence of two clusters of mesophilic B. cereus and psychrotolerant B. weihenstephanensis. Using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) analysis, this research aimed to better understand the diversity and spatio-temporal occurrence of emetic strains originating from environmental or food niches vs. those isolated from foodborne cases. The diversity was evaluated using a set of 52 B. cereus and B. weihenstephanensis strains isolated between 2000 and 2011 in ten countries. PFGE analysis could discriminate 17 distinct profiles (pulsotypes). The most striking observations were as follows: (1) more than one emetic pulsotype can be observed in a single outbreak; (2) the number of distinct isolates involved in emetic intoxications is limited, and these potentially clonal strains frequently occurred in successive and independent food poisoning cases; (3) isolates from different countries displayed identical profiles; and (4) the cereulide-producing psychrotolerant B. weihenstephanensis were, so far, only isolated from environmental niches.


Bacillus cereus sensu lato; emetic strains

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