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Bacillus subtilis, Gram stained
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Bacteria
Division: Firmicutes
Class: Bacilli
Order: Bacillales
Family: Bacillaceae
Genus: Bacillus
Cohn 1872

Bacillus anthracis
Bacillus cereus
Bacillus coagulans
Bacillus globigii
Bacillus licheniformis
Bacillus megaterium
Bacillus natto
Bacillus subtilis
Bacillus sphaericus
Bacillus thuringiensis

Bacillus is a genus of rod-shaped, Gram-positive bacteria and a member of the division Firmicutes. Bacillus species are either obligate or facultative aerobes, and test positive for the enzyme catalase.[1] Ubiquitous in nature, Bacillus includes both free-living and pathogenic species. Under stressful environmental conditions, the cells produce oval endospores that can stay dormant for extended periods. These characteristics originally defined the genus, but not all such species are closely related, and many have been moved to other genera.[2]

Bacillus subtilis is one of the best understood prokaryotes in terms of molecular biology and cell biology. Its superb genetic amenability and relatively large size have provided the powerful tools required to investigate a bacterium from all possible aspects. Recent improvements in fluorescence microscopy techniques have provided novel and amazing insight into the dynamic structure of a single cell organism. Research on Bacillus subtilis has been at the forefront of bacterial molecular biology and cytology, and the organism is a model for differentiation, gene/protein regulation, and cell cycle events in bacteria. [3]

Two Bacillus species are considered medically significant: B. anthracis, which causes anthrax, and B. cereus, which causes a foodborne illness similar to that of Staphylococcus.[4] A third species, B. thuringiensis, is an important insect pathogen, and is sometimes used to control insect pests. The type species is B. subtilis, an important model organism. It is also a notable food spoiler, causing ropiness in bread and related food. B. coagulans is also important in food spoilage.

An easy way to isolate Bacillus is by placing non-sterile soil in a test tube with water, shaking, placing in melted Mannitol Salt Agar, and incubating at room temperature for at least a day. Colonies are usually large, spreading and irregularly-shaped. Under the microscope, the Bacillus appear as rods, and a substantial portion usually contain an oval endospore at one end, making it bulge.


The cell wall

The cell wall of Bacillus is a rigid structure on the outside of the cell that forms the first barrier between the bacterium and the environment, and at the same time maintains cell shape and withstands the pressure generated by the cell's turgor. The cell wall is composed of peptidoglycan, teichoic and teichuronic acids. B. subtilis is the first bacterium for which the role of a ipo0jkjjyuk,mhn actin-like cytoskeleton in cell shape determination and peptidoglycan synthesis was identified and for which the entire set of peptidoglycan synthesizing enzymes was localised. The role of the cytoskeleton in shape generation and maintenance is important [5].

Word ambiguity

Although Bacillus, capitalized and italicized, specifically refers to the genus, the word 'bacillus' may also be used to describe any rod-shaped bacterium, and in this sense, bacilli are found in many different taxonomic groups of bacteria.

Likewise, Bacilli refers to the particular class Bacillus belongs to, while bacilli are any rod-shaped bacteria.

It should be noted that the cell morphology term bacillus does not necessarily indicate Gram-positive staining, as E. coli is a Gram-negative, rod-shaped bacteria.

See also

  • Paenibacillus, a genus of bacteria that was formerly included in Bacillus


  1. ^ Turnbull PCB (1996). Bacillus. In: Barron's Medical Microbiology (Baron S et al, eds.), 4th ed., Univ of Texas Medical Branch. ISBN 0-9631172-1-1. 
  2. ^ Madigan M; Martinko J (editors). (2005). Brock Biology of Microorganisms, 11th ed., Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-144329-1. 
  3. ^ Graumann P (editor). (2007). Bacillus: Cellular and Molecular Biology, 1st ed., Caister Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-904455-12-7 . 
  4. ^ Ryan KJ; Ray CG (editors) (2004). Sherris Medical Microbiology, 4th ed., McGraw Hill. ISBN 0-8385-8529-9. 
  5. ^ Scheffers DJ (2007). "The Cell Wall of Bacillus subtilis", Bacillus: Cellular and Molecular Biology (Graumann P, ed.). Caister Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-904455-12-7 . 
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Bacillus". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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