Defining the natural habitat of Bacillus spore-formers

Res Microbiol. 2009 Jul-Aug;160(6):375-9. doi: 10.1016/j.resmic.2009.06.006. Epub 2009 Jul 7.


Our understanding of the genetics and physiology of the spore-forming genus Bacillus is remarkable. On the other hand, though, where these Gram-positive bacteria live and grow is far from clear. The soil, once considered their habitat, may simply serve as a reservoir. A growing number of studies show that Bacillus spores can be found in the intestinal tracts of animals, raising the question of whether this could be where they live and grow. In this study, we have conducted the first evaluation of Bacillus spore formers in soil and in human faeces. Our aim is simply to determine the abundance of aerobic spore-formers. Our results show that soil carries approximately approximately 10(6)spores/g while human faeces an average of up to 10(4)spores/g. The numbers of spores found in faeces, we reason, is too high to be accounted for principally by ingestion of food contaminated with spores from soil. This provides further evidence that Bacillus spore formers may have adapted to survival within the intestinal tract of insects and other animals that ingest them; if so they may well be hitherto undiscovered gut commensals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus / growth & development
  • Bacillus / isolation & purification*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Ecosystem
  • Feces / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Soil Microbiology*
  • Spores, Bacterial / growth & development
  • Spores, Bacterial / isolation & purification