Germinant receptor diversity and germination responses of four strains of the Bacillus cereus group

M. van der Voort, D. Garcia, R. Moezelaar, T. Abee

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Four strains of the Bacillus cereus group were compared for their germinant receptor composition and spore germination capacity. Phylogenetic analysis of the germinant receptor encoding operons of the enterotoxic strains B. cereus ATCC 14579 and ATCC 10987, the emetic strain AH187, and the psychrotolerant strain Bacillus weihenstephanensis KBAB4, indicated a core group of five germinant receptor operons to be present in the four strains, with each strain containing one to three additional receptors. Using quantitative PCR, induction of expression during sporulation was confirmed for all identified germinant receptor operons in these strains. Despite the large overlap in receptors, diversity in amino acid-induced germination capacity was observed, with six out of 20 amino acids, serving as germinants for spores of all four strains. Each strain showed unique features: efficient germination of strain KBAB4 spores required non-inducing amounts of inosine as the co-germinant, strain ATCC 10987 spores germinated only efficiently after heat activation. Furthermore, strain ATCC 14579 and AH187 spores germinated without heat activation or inosine, with strain ATCC 14579 spores being triggered by all amino acids except phenylalanine and strain AH187 spores being specifically triggered efficiently only by phenylalanine. Analysis of all germination data did not reveal strict linkages between specific germinants and germinant receptors. Finally, the diversity in nutrient-induced germination capacity was also reflected in the diverse germination responses of heat-activated spores of the four B. cereus strains in food matrices, such as milk, rice water and meat bouillon, indicating that amino acid composition and/or availability of inosine are important germination determinants in foods. Keywords: Ger operon; Food preservation; B. weihenstephanensis; Sporulation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-115
JournalInternational Journal of Food Microbiology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • food poisoning toxins
  • spore germination
  • l-alanine
  • initiated germination
  • genome sequence
  • anthracis
  • atcc-14579
  • expression
  • inosine
  • operon


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