Bacillus anthracis evolution and epidemiology

P. Keim, K. L. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Bacillus anthracis is a pathogen that is widely distributed around the globe. However, this great distribution is not accompanied by great genetic diversity. Although subtle morphological and biochemical differences exist, the underlying genetic basis for this plasticity is not known. Indeed, very few single nucleotide differences have been detected among isolates and the only documented high variable sequences are associated with variable number tandem repeated (VNTR) sequences. The differences among the VNTRs has been used to suggest phylogenetic relationships among the worldwide isolates. There is one major clonal split in B. anthracis (A and B), with two minor clusters established within the B branch and four or more minor branches within the A group. The A branch is the most common worldwide, though the B branch is locally important in certain areas. The ecology and the evolution of B. anthracis have been greatly influenced by the spore phase of the lifecycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-32
Number of pages12
JournalCurrent Topics in Microbiology and Immunology
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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