Insights Into the Pathogenicity and Evolution of the Bacillus Cereus Group of Organisms Through Comprehensive Genome Sequencing of Pathogenic Bacillus Cereus Isolates and a Bacillus Anthracis Vaccine Strain


This project aims to expand the understanding of the pathogenicity of the Bacillus cereus group of organisms by sequencing and annotating the genomes of 10 strains, encompassing the breadth of diversity that has been shown in this medically important and understudied group of organisms. Pathogenic B. cereus spp. are emerging and established pathogens of immediate biomedical, public health and biodefense/biopreparedness concerns. The project includes isolates that are (1) phylogenetically close to Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax, (2) responsible for disease resembling anthrax, (3) the direct cause of devastating food borne emetic and diarrheal diseases and (4) a B. anthracis attenuated vaccine strain that contains the virulence plasmids pXO1 and pXO2. To capture as much of the genetic diversity as possible while maximizing available resources, we are sequencing a selected representative of each group to closure, with additional isolates being sequenced to draft level. This bold plan of work leverages basic research, diagnostics and therapeutics and establishes a genetic background for this important group of pathogens that will facilitate bioforensic investigations, public health preparedness and our national biopreparedness.

Isolate Selection

After consulting the B. cereus scientific community and the different agencies funding similar projects, nine additional B. cereus strains and one B. anthracisvaccine stain were targeted for this genomic study. Five of the strains were chosen for complete sequencing to closure (B. cereus AH820, B. cereusAH1134, B. cereus B4264, B. cereus AH187, and B. cereus G9842) with five additional strains chosen for draft level (8X) coverage.


Thomas "Rick" Blank
Arthur Friedlander
U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases

Michele Callegan
Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center

Per Einar Granum
Anne-Brit Kolstø
Ole Andreas Økstad
University of Oslo

Alex Hoffmaster

Barbara A. Methé

David A. Rasko
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Jacques Ravel
Institute for Genome Sciences, University of Maryland School of Medicine

M.J. Rosovitz
Midwest Research Institute

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