Bacillus weihenstephanensis sp. nov. is a new psychrotolerant species of the Bacillus cereus group
The Bacillus cereus group comprises the four valid species Bacillus cereus, Bacillus mycoides, Bacillus thuringiensis and Bacillus anthracis. Some isolates of B. cereus are known to be psychrotolerant (growth at 7 °C or below). Here, specific sequence differences are described between the 16S rDNA, the 23S rDNA, the 16S–23S rDNA spacer region and the genes of the major cold-shock protein homologue cspA in a variety of psychrotolerant and mesophilic B. cereus and B. mycoides strains. Randomly amplified polymorphic DNA analysis using three different primers clearly separated psychrotolerant strains of both species from the rest of the B. cereus group, as did inverse PCR patterns of the rDNA operons. These data strongly support a hitherto unrecognized fifth sub-group within the B. cereus species group comprising psychrotolerant, but not mesophilic, B. cereus strains. Despite the latter finding, the DNA sequences investigated exhibited a high degree of sequence similarity indicating a close relationship between the species of the B. cereus group. Considering the unusual importance of B. cereus in both food poisoning and food spoilage and to avoid merging all species of the group, a new species, Bacillus weihenstephanensis sp. nov., comprising psychrotolerant ‘cereus’ strains, is proposed. Isolates of the new species grow at 4–7°C but not at 43°C and can be identified rapidly using rDNA or cspA targeted PCR. The type strain is B. weihenstephanensis WSBC 10204T(= DSM 11821T).