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Archive for the ‘Bacillus subtilis’ Category

More on Bacillus subtilis

Here’s a list of antibiotics that Bacillus subtilis is used with. It’s effects are against aerobic and non-aerobic bacteria. There is no differentiating between good and bad bacteria, as some people are lead to believe. That differentiation is something put out by the pharmaceuitical companies and MDs. The warrior model of destroying this and that as used in medicine, is antiquated and has been so many decades. The “holistic” approach used by many people is just a variation on the medical warriot model, whereby medications are substituted with something else to bring about destruction. The approach to destroying anything in the body, fails to consider that in doing so, we are destroying ourselves in the process. It’s okay if you want to support those groups, it’s just that the information is misleading.

All bacteria in a balanced system benefit the system. Create the balance and you also create the safeguards against anything that shouldn’t be there. Destroy that balance and you’ll see health start to slip away as the ecosystem starts to collapse into chaos.

As you’ll see below, Bacillus subtilis has been associated with food poisoning, disease conditions, and has been tested for biological applications as a biolgical agent.

Bacillus subtilis is the basis for many antibiotics due to its strong antibacterial function. This antibacterial function will create imbalance within the body by destroying bacteria. It also has a strong antifungal effect and is the basis for antifungal medications, but these, as we know, create other imbalances.

You’ll see below this list of B. subtilis-based antibiotics some more information on B. subtilis. It’s not a risk-free choice. Whatever your decision, make it an informed choice.


B. subtilis
does produce an extracellular toxin known as subtilisin. Although subtilisin has very low toxigenic properties (Gill, 1982), this proteinaceous compound is capable of causing allergic reactions in individuals who are repeatedly exposed to it (Edberg, 1991). Sensitization of workers to subtilisin may be a problem in fermentation facilities where exposure to high concentration of this compound may occur. Exposure limits to subtilisin are regulated by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (29 CFR 1900, et seq.)Biotechnology Program Under Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)

Bacillus subtilis Final Risk Assessment

III. HAZARD ASSESSMENT

A. Human Health Hazards

1. Colonization

B. subtilis is widely distributed throughout the environment, particularly in soil, air, and decomposing plant residue. It has shown a capacity to grow over a wide range of temperatures including that of the human body (Claus and Berkeley, 1986). However, B. subtilis does not appear to have any specialized attachment mechanisms typically found in organisms capable of colonizing humans (Edberg, 1991). Given its ubiquity in nature and the environmental conditions under which it is capable of surviving, B. subtilis could be expected to temporarily inhabit the skin and gastrointestinal tract of humans, but it is doubtful that this organism would colonize other sites in the human body (Edberg, 1991).

2. Gene Transfer

The transfer of gene sequences between strains of B. subtilis has been demonstrated when the strains were grown together in soil (Graham and Istock, 1979). In addition, Klier et al. (1983) demonstrated the ability of B. subtilis and B. thuringiensis to exchange high frequency transfer plasmids. Other studies have shown that B. subtilis has the ability to express and secrete toxins or components of the toxins that were acquired from other microorganisms through such transfers of genetic material. B. subtilis expressed subunits of toxins from Bordatella pertussis (Saris et al., 1990a, 1990b), as well as subunits of diphtheria toxin (Hemila et al., 1989) and pneumolysin A pneumococcal toxin (Taira et al., 1989). Although B. subtilis does not appear to possess indigenous virulence factor genes, it is theoretically possible that it may acquire such genes from other bacteria, particularly from closely related bacteria within the genus.

3. Toxin Production

A review of the literature by Edberg (1991) failed to reveal the production of toxins by B. subtilis. Although it has been associated with outbreaks of food poisoning (Gilbert et al., 1981 and Kramer et al., 1982 as cited by Logan, 1988), the exact nature of its involvement has not been established. B. subtilis, like other closely related species in the genus, B. licheniformis, B. pumulis, and B. megaterium, have been shown to be capable of producing lecithinase, an enzyme which disrupts membranes of mammalian cells. However, there has not been any correlation between lecithinase production and human disease in B. subtilis.

4. Measure of the Degree of Virulence

B. subtilis appears to have a low degree of virulence to humans. It does not produce significant quantities of extracellular enzymes or possess other virulence factors that would predispose it to cause infection (Edberg, 1991). There are a number of reports where B. subtilis has been isolated from human infections. Earlier literature contains references to infections caused by B. subtilis. However, as previously stated,the term B. subtilis was synonymous for any aerobic sporeforming bacilli, and quite possibly, many of these infections were associated with B. cereus. In a recent British review article, Logan (1988) cites more recent cases of B. subtilis infections in which identification of the bacterium appeared reliable. Infections include a case of endocarditis in a drug abuse patient; fatal pneumonia and bacteremia in three leukemic patients; septicemia in a patient with breast cancer; and infection of a necrotic axillary tumor in another breast cancer patient. Isolation of B. subtilis was also made from surgical wound-drainage sites, from a subphrenic abscess from a breast prosthesis, and from two ventriculo-atrial shunt infections (as cited by Logan, 1988).

Reviews of Bacillus infections from several major hospitals suggest that B. subtilis is an organism with low virulence. Idhe and Armstrong (1973) reported that Bacillus infections were encountered only twelve times over a 6-1/2 year period. Species identification of these Bacillus infections was not made. In another hospital study over a 6-yr. period, only two of the 24 cases of bacteremia caused by Bacillus (of a total of 1,038 cases) were due to B. subtilis (as cited by Edberg, 1991). Many of these patients were immunocompromised or had long term indwelling foreign bodies such as a Hickman catheter.

B. subtilis has also been implicated in several cases of food poisoning (Gilbert et al., 1981 and Kramer et al., 1982 as cited by Logan, 1988).

As previously mentioned, B. subtilis produces a number of enzymes, including subtilisin, for use in laundry detergent products. There have been a number of cases of allergic or hypersensitivity reactions, including dermatitis and respiratory distress after the use of these laundry products (Norris et al., 1981).

5. Conclusions

B. subtilis is not a human pathogen, nor is it toxigenic like some other members of the genus. The virulence characteristics of the microorganism are low. According to Edberg (1991) either the number of microorganisms challenging the individual must be very high or the immune status of the individual very low in order for infection with B. subtilis to occur.

B. Environmental Hazards

3. Hazards to Other Microorganisms

B. subtilis has been shown to produce a wide variety of antibacterial and antifungal compounds (Katz and Demain, 1977; Korzybski et al., 1978). It produces novel antibiotics such as difficidin and oxydifficidin that have activity against a wide spectrum of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria (Zimmerman et al., 1987) as well as more common antibiotics such as bacitracin, bacillin, and bacillomycin B (Parry et al., 1983). The use of B. subtilis as a biocontrol agent of fungal plant pathogens is being investigated because of the effects of antifungal compounds on Monilinia fructicola (McKeen et al., 1986), Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus (Kimura and Hirano, 1988), and Rhizoctonia (Loeffler et al., 1986).

Although B. subtilis produces a variety of antibiotic compounds in culture media, the importance of antibiotic production in the environment is unknown (Alexander, 1977).

B. subtilisis not a frank human pathogen, but has on several occasions been isolated from human infections. Infections attributed to B. subtilis include bacteremia, endocarditis, pneumonia, and septicemia. However, these infections were found in patients in compromised immune states. There must be immunosuppression of the host followed by inoculation in high numbers before infection with B. subtilis canoccur. There also have been several reported cases of food poisoning attributed to large numbers of B. subtilis contaminated food. B. subtilis does not produce significant quantities of extracellular enzymes or other factors that would predispose it to cause infection. Unlike several other species in the genus, B. subtilis is not consider toxigenic. B. subtilis does produce the extracellular enzyme subtilisin that has been reported to cause allergic or hypersensitivity reactions in individuals repeatedly exposed to it.

In conclusion, the use of B. subtilis in fermentation facilities for the production of enzymes or specialty chemicals has low risk. Although not completely innocuous, the industrial use of B. subtilis presents low risk of adverse effects to human health or the environment.

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