Divergence in environmental adaptation between terrestrial clades of the Bacillus cereus group

Manktelow, C James, White, Hugh, Crickmore, Neil and Raymond, Ben (2021) Divergence in environmental adaptation between terrestrial clades of the Bacillus cereus group. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 97 (1). pp. 1-12. ISSN 0168-6496

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The Bacillus cereus group encompasses beneficial and harmful species in diverse niches and has a much debated taxonomy. Investigating whether selection has led to ecological divergence between phylogenetic clades can help understand the basis of speciation, and has implications for predicting biological safety across this group. Using three most terrestrial species in this group (B. cereus, Bacillus thuringiensis and Bacillus mycoides) we charactererized ecological specialization in terms of resource use, thermal adaptation and fitness in different environmental conditions and tested whether taxonomic species or phylogenetic clade best explained phenotypic variation. All isolates grew vigorously in protein rich media and insect cadavers, but exploitation of soil or plant derived nutrients was similarly weak for all. For B. thuringiensis and B. mycoides, clade and taxonomic species were important predictors of relative fitness in insect infections. Fully psychrotolerant isolates could outcompete B. thuringiensis in insects at low temperature, although psychrotolerance predicted growth in artificial media better than clade. In contrast to predictions, isolates in the Bacillus anthracis clade had sub-optimal growth at 37°C. The common ecological niche in these terrestrial B. cereus species is the ability to exploit protein rich resources such as cadavers. However, selection has led to different phylogenetic groups developing different strategies for accessing this resource. Thus, clades, as well as traditional taxonomic phenotypes, predict biologically important traits.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Bacillus thuringiensis, bacterial taxonomy, environment dependent fitness, niche differentiation, psychrotolerance, Animals, Bacillus, Bacillus anthracis, Bacillus cereus, Bacillus thuringiensis, Phylogeny
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Biochemistry
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 07 Oct 2021 07:46
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2021 09:16
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/102161

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