Genetic relationship in the ‘Bacillus cereus group’ by rep-PCR fingerprinting and sequencing of a Bacillus anthracis-specific rep-PCR fragment


Daniele Daffonchio, Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Alimentari e Microbiologiche, Università degli Studi di Milano, via Celoria 2, 20133, Milano, Italy (e-mail:


Aims: To evaluate the genetic relationship in the Bacillus cereus group by rep-PCR fingerprinting.

Methods and Results: A collection of 112 strains of the six species of the B. cereus group was analysed by rep-PCR fingerprinting using the BOX-A1R primer. A relative genetic distinctness was found among the species. Cluster analysis of the rep-PCR patterns showed clusters of B. thuringiensis strains quite separate from those of B. cereus strains. The B. anthracis strains represented an independent lineage in a B. cereus cluster. The B. mycoides, B. pseudomycoides and B. weihenstephanensis strains were clustered into three groups at some distance from the other species. Comparison of sequences of AC-390, a typical B. anthracis rep-PCR fragment, from 27 strains of B. anthracis, B. cereus, B. thuringiensis and B. weihenstephanensis, representative of different clusters identified by rep-PCR fingerprinting, confirmed that B. anthracis diverges from its related species.

Conclusions: The genetic relationship deduced from the rep-PCR patterns indicates a relatively clear separation of the six species, suggesting that they can indeed be considered as separate units.

Significance and Impact of the Study: rep-PCR fingerprinting can make a contribution in the clarification of the genetic relationships between the species of the B. cereus group.