Updating the H-antigen classification of Bacillus thuringiensis


Dr M.-M. Lecadet, Laboratoire des Bactéries et Champignons Entomopathogènes, Institut Pasteur28, rue du Dr Roux, 75724 Paris Cedex 15, France.


The classification of Bacillus thuringiensis strains has been revised and updated based on flagellar antigens which have been in use for many years. Sixty-nine serotypes and 13 sub-antigenic groups have now been identified, giving 82 serovars among the 3500 B. thuringiensis isolates of the IEBC Collection. The number of serovars has gradually increased with the total number of strains. The biochemical characters used have also been investigated and their value assessed for identification of B. thuringiensis at the subspecies level. A crystal analysis was carried out in terms of morphology, δ-endotoxin profiles and larvicidal activity for the newly identified serovars. It was found that atypical crystals, some with novel components, are becoming more common. No insect susceptible to these serovars has been discovered among known target species. The number of cross-reacting H-antigens among B. cereus strains is increasing and may be of biological significance.