Genomic diversity and virulence genes characterization of Bacillus cereus sensu lato isolated from processing equipment of an Algerian dairy plant

Didouh, Nassima, Achek, Rachid, Celandroni, Francesco, Ghelardi, Emilia, Mazzantini, Diletta, Postollec, Florence, Moussa-Boudjemaa, Boumediene, Ouoba, Irene, Tomaso, Herbert, Linde, Jörg and El-Adawy, Hosny (2023) Genomic diversity and virulence genes characterization of Bacillus cereus sensu lato isolated from processing equipment of an Algerian dairy plant. Journal of Food Quality, 2023. pp. 1-11. ISSN 1745-4557


Bacillus cereus is a ubiquitous spore-forming bacterium causing food spoilage. In this study, seventeen B. cereus were isolated from dairy processing equipment in Algeria and characterized. The pathogenic potential genes encoding hemolysin, nonhaemolytic enterotoxin, cytotoxin K and emetic toxin were investigated by PCR. Phylogeny and genetic markers for antimicrobial resistance and virulence were analyzed using whole-genome sequencing data using the Illumina MiSeq® technology. The identity of the isolated strains was confirmed as B. cereus sensu lato and the sequencing of the panC gene clustered 64.7% of them in phylogenetic group III and 35.3% in group IV. The results of PFGE showed that 8 (47.1%), 4 (23.5%), 3 (17.6%) and 2 (11.8%) were differentiated into four groups A, B, C and D, respectively. Each of the two panC phylogenetic groups contains two different types of isolates corresponding to PFGE group (A and C) and (B and D) for phylogenetic groups III and IV, respectively. None of the 14 isolates carried the emetic toxin (ces) gene, whereas other toxin genes were variably detected. Genotyping assigned all isolates to three different sequence types (ST 2226, ST1018 and ST1431) while one clonal complex (CC-142) was identified in three isolates. Hierarchical clustering with a threshold of 500 core genome single nucleotide polymorphism (cgSNPs) differences grouped the strains into three clusters while two strains were less than 20 SNPs different. Three B. cereus (25%) contained three enterotoxic HBL complex-encoding genes hblA/C/D. Enterotoxic NHE complex-encoding genes (nheA/B/C) and the ctyK1 gene were detected in all isolates. The overall results highlight the risk due to toxins produced by the B. cereus group in the food safety and dairy industries in Algeria. This study emphasized the potential of whole-genome sequencing for genotyping and predicting the virulence-associated genes and antimicrobial resistance. The present study will help to better assess the health and spoilage risk associated with B. cereus in dairy processing plants and to incorporate adequate preventive measures.

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