The genomic characterisation and comparison of Bacillus cereus strains isolated from indoor air
Reference: Gut Pathogens (2021) 13: 6

Bacillus cereus is ubiquitous in nature, found in environments such as soil, plants, air, and part of the insect and human gut microbiome. The ability to produce endospores and biofilms contribute to their pathogenicity, classified in two types of food poisoning: diarrheal and emetic syndromes. Here we report gap-free, whole-genome sequences of two B. cereus strains isolated from air samples and analyse their emetic and diarrheal potential. Genome assemblies of the B. cereus strains consist of one chromosome and seven plasmids each. The genome size of strain SGAir0260 is 6.30-Mb with 6590 predicted coding sequences (CDS) and strain SGAir0263 is 6.47-Mb with 6811 predicted CDS. Macrosynteny analysis showed 99% collinearity between the strains isolated from air and 90.2% with the reference genome. Comparative genomics with 57 complete B. cereus genomes suggests these strains from air are closely associated with strains isolated from foodborne illnesses outbreaks. Due to virulence potential of B. cereus and its reported involvement in nosocomial infections, antibiotic resistance analyses were performed and confirmed resistance to ampicillin and fosfomycin, with susceptibility to ciprofloxacin, tetracycline and vancomycin in both strains. Phylogenetic analysis combined with detection of haemolytic (hblA, hblC, and hblD) and non-haemolytic (nheA, nheB, and nheC) enterotoxin genes in both air-isolated strains point to the diarrheic potential of the air isolates, though not emetic. Characterisation of these airborne strains and investigation of their potential disease-causing genes could facilitate identification of environmental sources of contamination leading to foodborne illnesses and nosocomial infections transported by air.

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