Bacillus is a bacteria genus that was first named by Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg in 1835 to describe rod-shaped (bacillus) bacteria. Then it was further amended by Ferdinand Cohn to identify them as Gram-positive, spore-forming, aerobic or facultatively anaerobic bacteria. Members of Bacillus can be oxygen reliant (obligate aerobes), or facultative anaerobes, which means they have the ability to be aerobic or anaerobic. Bacillus species are ubiquitous in nature, including some extreme environments with high temperature (B. thermophilus), high salt (B. halodurans), or high pH (B. alcalophilus). Many members of Bacillus can produce large amounts of enzymes that have been introduced in different applications of industry. For example, Bacillus amyloliquefaciens have been used as the natural source of several enzymes including alpha amylase used in starch hydrolysis, a natural antibiotic protein barnase (a ribonuclease), the protease subtilisin used with detergents, and the BamH1 restriction enzyme used in DNA research.
Fig. 1 Gram stain of B. anthracis
Two species of Bacillus are thought medically significant: B. anthracis and B. cereus. B. anthracis causes anthrax and B. cereus infection can cause two food poisoning syndromes: a slower-onset diarrheal syndrome and a rapid-onset emetic syndrome characterized by nausea and vomiting, which is similar to that caused by Staphylococcus. What's more, another member of Bacillus, B. thuringiensis, is considered as an important insect pathogen, which can be used to control insect pests. B. subtilis is a typical species of Bacillus and is used as an important model organism in biological researches. It is also a notable food spoiler which may cause ropiness in related food and bread.
The species of Bacillus are rod-shaped, aerobic or facultatively anaerobic, endospore-forming, Gram-positive bacteria. However, cultures of some species may turn to a Gram-negative form with age. The many species of Bacillus exhibits various physiologic abilities which allow them to survive in nearly every natural environment. In a cell of Bacillus, only one endospore is formed. And spores of Bacillus are resistant to heat, cold, desiccation, radiation, and disinfectants.
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