Polyphasic characterization of Bacillus species from anthrax outbreaks in animals from South Africa and Lesotho
Introduction: Bacillus anthracis is the causative agent of anthrax, a disease endemic in regions of Northern Cape Province and Kruger National Park of South Africa. Accurate identification of virulent B. anthracis is essential but challenging due to its close relationship with other members of B. cereus group. This study characterized B. anthracis and Bacillus species that were recovered from animals and the environment where animals died of anthrax symptoms in southern Africa using a polyphasic approach.
Methodology: For this purpose, 3 B. anthracis and 10 Bacillus isolates were subjected to microbiology tests, BiologOmniLog identification system (Biolog), 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) sequence analysis, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) detection of protective antigen (pag) and capsule (cap) regions, and real-time PCR using hybridization probes targeting chromosomal, pag, and capC genes.
Results: The Bacillus isolates were non-hemolytic, non-motile, and susceptible to penicillin, which is typical of B. anthracis, but resistant to gamma phage, unlike typical B. anthracis. The Biolog system and 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis identified most of the Bacillus isolates as B. endophyticus (7 of 10). Conventional PCR revealed that most of the Bacillus isolates contained capBCA gene regions. This highlights the limitation of the specificity of conventional PCR and the fact that the real-time PCR is more specific and reliable for anthrax diagnosis.
Conclusions: Real-time PCR, 16S rRNA sequencing, and confirmatory microbiology tests including phage resistance distinguished Bacillus isolates from B. anthracis in this study. Identification of B. anthracis should be done using a polyphasic approach.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).