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Food Microbiology
Vol. 46, 2015; Pages: 288–298

Genetic discrimination of foodborne pathogenic and spoilage Bacillus spp. based on three housekeeping genes

S. Caamaño-Antelo, I.C. Fernández-No, K. Böhme, M. Ezzat-Alnakip, M. Quintela-Baluja, J. Barros-Velázquez, P. Calo-Mata

Department of Analytical Chemistry, Nutrition and Food Science, School of Veterinary Sciences/College of Biotechnology, University of Santiago de Compostela, Rúa Carballo Calero s/n, Campus Lugo, E-27002 Lugo, Spain.


Bacillus genus includes foodborne pathogenic and spoilage-associated species, such as Bacillus cereus, Bacillus licheniformis, Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus pumilus. Bacillus is also a heterogeneous genus that includes closely related species that are difficult to discriminate among, especially when well-conserved genes such as 16S rRNA and 23S rRNA are considered. The main goal of the present work was to study the usefulness of three housekeeping genes, the TU elongation factor (tuf), the DNA gyrase β subunit (gyrB) and the RNA polymerase β subunit (rpoB) genes, for use in differentiating among the most important foodborne Bacillus spp. sequences from 20 foodborne isolated Bacillus strains, and sequences belonging to different Bacillus spp. retrieved from the GenBank were analysed. In general terms, gyrB, rpoB and tuf gene regions for the strains considered in this study exhibited interspecific similarities of 57.8%, 67.23% and 77.66% respectively. Novel tufGPF and tufGPR universal primers targeted to the tuf gene were designed and proved to be useful for the amplification of all Bacillus spp considered. In conclusion, the tuf gene can be considered to be a good target for the differential characterisation of foodborne Bacillus species, especially for differentiating B. subtilis and B. cereus from other closely related species.

Keywords: Bacillus; Phylogenetics; tuf gene; Bacterial identification; Food safety.


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