Genome differences that distinguish Bacillus anthracis from Bacillus cereus and Bacillus thuringiensis

Lyndsay Radnedge, Peter G. Agron, Karen K. Hill, Paul J. Jackson, Lawrence O. Ticknor, Paul Keim, Gary L. Andersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

148 Scopus citations


The three species of the group 1 bacilli, Bacillus anthracis, B. cereus, and B. thuringiensis, are genetically very closely related. All inhabit soil habitats but exhibit different phenotypes. B. anthracis is the causative agent of anthrax and is phylogenetically monomorphic, while B. cereus and B. thuringiensis are genetically more diverse. An amplified fragment length polymorphism analysis described here demonstrates genetic diversity among a collection of non-anthrax-causing Bacillus species, some of which show significant similarity to B. anthracis. Suppression subtractive hybridization was then used to characterize the genomic differences that distinguish three of the non-anthrax-causing bacilli from B. anthracis Ames. Ninety-three DNA sequences that were present in B. anthracis but absent from the non-anthrax-causing Bacillus genomes were isolated. Furthermore, 28 of these sequences were not found in a collection of 10 non-anthrax-causing Bacillus species but were present in all members of a representative collection of B. anthracis strains. These sequences map to distinct loci on the B. anthracis genome and can be assayed simultaneously in multiplex PCR assays for rapid and highly specific DNA-based detection of B. anthracis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2755-2764
Number of pages10
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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