Detection of toxigenic strains of Bacillus cereus and other Bacillus spp. with an improved cytotoxicity assay


Dr S.H. Beattie, Hannah Research Institute, Ayr KA6 5HL, UK.


An improved qualitative cell cytotoxicity assay for the detection of Bacillus cereus emetic and enterotoxin is described. The presence of toxin in culture supernatant fluids was detected by measurement with the tetrazolium salt MTT, as it adversely affects the metabolic status of cultured CHO cells. Psychrotrophic B. cereus isolates (65) were assessed for toxin production using the cytotoxicity assay, and 91% of culture supernatant fluids were cytotoxic. Toxin assessment using BCET-RPLA and ELISA immunoassays indicated that 51% and 85% of the cultures, respectively, were toxigenic. There were pronounced strain differences in the amount of toxin produced by the B. cereus isolates. Some isolates of B. circulans, B. laterosporus/cereus, B. lentus, B. licheniformis, B. mycoides, B. subtilis and B. thuringiensis were also toxigenic.