Bacillus is a genus of Bacillaceae, a family of Gram-positive bacteria which produce endospores. Members of the genus Bacillus are spore-forming, rod-shaped cells. Most species are saprophytic soil forms with only a few species being pathogenic. The definite feature of the genus is spore formation. There are more than 70 species in this genus, which display wide morphological and physiological diversity:

Bacillus anthracis, the cause of Anthrax
Bacillus anthracis, the cause of Anthrax
Source: CDC
  • Bacillus anthracis causes anthrax, a fatal disease of all animal species, characterized by generalized blood poisoning and sudden death.
  • Bacillus cereus is a rod-shaped bacteria that is a common soil saprophyte (an organism that feeds on dead organic matter especially a fungus or bacterium). Its spores are widespread and multiplication has been observed chiefly in foods. Contamination may lead to food poisoning including emetic and diarrheal. The emetic syndrome is caused by the toxin which is produced in food during vegetative bacterial growth. After the toxin has been produced, no treatment can destroy this stable molecule, including stomach acid and enzymes of the intestinal tract.4
  • Bacillus megaterium is a common soil saprophyte, it is also found in diverse environments from rice paddies to dried food, seawater, sediments, fish and even in bee honey. Its lack of endotoxins associated with the outer membranes made it applicable in food and pharmaceutical production processes. It is frequently employed for the industrial production of enzymes, including amylases, proteinases, and penicillin acylases.2,3
  • Bacillus subtilis is a common soil and water saprophyte. It produces enzymes that are widely used in brewing, baking and washing powder industries. It is also associated with plants and animals where its functions are not well understood.
  • Bacillus thuringiensis is one of the most widely used biopesticide in biological control of insect pests of agriculture, forests, and public health.


  1. The desk encyclopedia of microbiology By Moselio Schaechter, Joshua Lederberg
  2. Biosystems Engineering I: Creating Superior Biocatalysts By Christoph Wittmann
  3. Microbial processes and products By José-Luis Barredo
  4. Food-borne pathogens: methods and protocols By Catherine Adley



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