• Bacillus anthracis;
  • Bacillus cereus group;
  • Multiplex detection;
  • Real-time polymerase chain reaction;
  • LightCycler


Bacillus anthracis has four plasmid possible virulence genotypes: pXO1+/pXO2+, pXO1+/pXO2, pXO1/pXO2+ or pXO1/pXO2. Due to the lack of a specific chromosomal marker for B. anthracis, differentiation of the pXO1/pXO2 form of B. anthracis from closely related Bacillus cereus group species is difficult. In this study, we evaluate the ability of sspE, pXO1 and pXO2 primers to discriminate individual B. anthracis and the B. cereus group genotypes using multiplex real-time PCR and melting curve analysis. Optimal conditions for successful multiplex assays have been established. Purified DNAs from 38 bacterial strains including 11 strains of B. anthracis and 18 B. cereus group strains were analyzed. Nine of the B. cereus group near-neighbor strains were shown by multilocus sequence typing to be phylogenetically proximate to the B. anthracis clade. We have demonstrated that the four plasmid genotypes of B. anthracis and B. cereus group near-neighbors were differentially and simultaneously discriminated by this assay.