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BMC Microbiology
Vol. 15 (1), 2015, Pages: 1-10

Characterization of the spore-forming group and bacteria isolated from the Australian dairy farm environment

Paul Dréan, Catherine McAuley, Sean Moore, Narelle Fegan, Edward Fox

CSIRO Food and Nutrition, Werribee, Australia.


Background The Bacillus cereus sensu lato group and Clostridium perfringens are spore-forming bacteria often associated with food spoilage and which can cause emetic and diarrheal syndromes in humans and ruminants. This study characterised the phenotypes and genotypes of 50 Bacillus cereus s. l. isolates and 26 Clostridium perfringens isolates from dairy farms environments in Victoria, Australia. Results Five of the seven B. cereus s. l. species were isolated, and analysis of the population diversity using Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) suggested that the populations are largely distinct to each farm. Enterotoxin production by representative isolates of each B. cereus s. l. species identified was typically found to be reduced in milk, compared with broth. Among the C. perfringens isolates, only two different toxin types were identified, type A and D. Bovine and ovine farms harbored only type A whereas both type A and D were found on two of the three caprine farms. Conclusions This study showed that the B. cereus s. l. populations on the sampled farms exhibit a broad diversity in both species and genotypes. The risk of toxin-induced diarrheal illness through consumption of contaminated milk may be limited, in comparison with other food matrices. Type A strains of C. perfringens were the most abundant on dairy farms in Victoria, however type D may be of concern on caprine farms as it can cause enterotoxemia in goats.


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