The assessment of leading traits in the taxonomy of the Bacillus cereus group
TORRES MANNO, MARIANO A.; REPIZO, GUILLERMO D.; MAGNI, CHRISTIAN; DUNLAP, CHRISTOPHER A.; ESPARIZ, MARTÍN
ANTON LEEUW INT. J. G.
Lugar: Berlin; Año: 2020
Bacillus cereus sensu lato strains (B. cereus group) are widely distributed in nature and have received interest for decades due to their importance in insect pest management, food production and their positive and negative repercussions in human health. Consideration of practical uses such as virulence, physiology, morphology, or ill-defined features have been applied to describe and classify species of the group. However, current comparative studies have exposed inconsistencies between evolutionary relatedness and biological significance among genomospecies of the B. cereus group. Here, the combined analyses of core-based phylogeny and all versus all Average Nucleotide Identity values based on 2166 strains were conducted to update the genomospecies circumscriptions within B. cereus group. These analyses suggested the existence of 57 genomospecies, 37 of which are novel, thus indicating that the taxonomic identities of more than 39% of the analyzed strains should be revised or updated. In addition, we found that whole-genome in silico analyses were suitable to differentiate genomospecies such as B. anthracis, B. cereus and B. thuringiensis. The prevalence of toxin and virulence factors coding genes in each of the genomospecies of the B. cereus group was also examined, using phylogeny-aware methods at wide-genome scale. Remarkably, Cry and emetic toxins, commonly assumed to be associated with B. thuringiensis and emetic B. paranthracis, respectively, did not show a positive correlation with those genomospecies. On the other hand, anthrax-like toxin and capsule-biosynthesis coding genes were positively correlated with B. anthracis genomospecies, despite not being present in all strains, and with presumably non-pathogenic genomospecies. Hence, despite these features have been so far considered relevant for industrial or medical classification of related species of the B. cereus group, they were inappropriate for their circumscription. In this study, genomospecies of the group were accurately affiliated and representative strains defined, generating a rational framework that will allow comparative analysis in epidemiological or ecological studies. Based on this classification the role of specific markers such as Type VII secretion system, cytolysin, bacillolysin, and siderophores such as petrobactin were pointed out for further analysis.