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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1994 May;60(5):1646-51.

Identification of hemolysin BL-producing Bacillus cereus isolates by a discontinuous hemolytic pattern in blood agar.

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Department of Food Microbiology and Toxicology, University of Wisconsin--Madison 53706.


Bacillus cereus causes distinct exotoxin-mediated diarrheal and emetic food poisoning syndromes and a variety of nongastrointestinal infections. Evidence is accumulating that hemolysin BL is a major B. cereus virulence factor. We describe two methods for detection of hemolysin BL in crude samples and on primary culture media. In the first method, the highly unusual discontinuous hemolysis pattern that is characteristic of pure hemolysin BL was produced in sheep and calf blood agar around wells filled with crude culture supernatant from hemolysin BL-producing strains. In the second method, the pattern was formed surrounding colonies of hemolysin BL-producing strains grown on media consisting of nutrient agar, 0.15 M NaCl, 2% calf serum, and sheep or calf blood. Hemolysin BL production was detected with these methods in 41 of 62 (66%) previously identified B. cereus isolates and in 46 of 136 (34%) presumptive B. cereus isolates from soil. All nine isolates tested that were associated with diarrhea or nongastrointestinal illness were positive for hemolysin BL. The methods presented here are specific, simple, inexpensive, and applicable to the screening of large numbers of samples or isolates.

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