Germination and outgrowth of spores of Bacillus cereus group members: Diversity and role of germinant receptors

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Bacillus cereus is a Gram-positive, facultative anaerobic, endospore-forming toxicogenic human pathogen. Endospores are highly specialized, metabolically dormant cell types that are resistant to extreme environmental conditions, including heat, dehydration and other physical stresses. B. cereus can enter a range of environments, and can in its spore form, survive harsh conditions. If these conditions become favorable, spores can germinate and grow out and reach considerable numbers in a range of environments including processed foods. Certainly the last decade, when consumer preferences have shifted to mildly processed food, new opportunities arose for spore-forming spoilage and pathogenic organisms. Only rigorous methods have been shown to be capable of destroying all spores present in food, thus a shift toward e.g., milder heat preservation strategies, may result in low but significant amounts of viable spores in food products. Hence, the need for a mild spore destruction strategy is eminent including control of spore outgrowth. Consequently, there is a large interest in triggering spore germination in foodstuffs, since germinated spores have lost the extreme resistance of dormant spores and are relatively easy to kill. Another option could be to prevent germination so that no dangerous levels can be reached. This contribution will focus on germination and outgrowth characteristics of B. cereus and other members of the B. cereus group, providing an overview of the niches these spore-formers can occupy, the signals that trigger germination, and how B. cereus copes with these wake-up calls in different environments including foods, during food processing and upon interaction with the human host.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-208
JournalFood Microbiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • amino-acid substitutions
  • subtilis spores
  • inner membrane
  • l-alanine
  • nutrient receptors
  • initiated germination
  • superdormant spores
  • dipicolinic acid
  • genome sequence
  • stainless-steel


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