Members of the genus Bacillus are known to produce a wide arsenal of antimicrobial substances, including peptide and lipopeptide antibiotics, and bacteriocins. Many of the Bacillus bacteriocins belong to the lantibiotics, a category of post-translationally modified peptides widely disseminated among different bacterial clades. Lantibiotics are among the best-characterized antimicrobial peptides at the levels of peptide structure, genetic determinants and biosynthesis mechanisms. Members of the genus Bacillus also produce many other nonmodified bacteriocins, some of which resemble the pediocin-like bacteriocins of the lactic acid bacteria (LAB), while others show completely novel peptide sequences. Bacillus bacteriocins are increasingly becoming more important due to their sometimes broader spectra of inhibition (as compared with most LAB bacteriocins), which may include Gram-negative bacteria, yeasts or fungi, in addition to Gram-positive species, some of which are known to be pathogenic to humans and/or animals. The present review provides a general overview of Bacillus bacteriocins, including primary structure, biochemical and genetic characterization, classification and potential applications in food preservation as natural preservatives and in human and animal health as alternatives to conventional antibiotics. Furthermore, it addresses their environmental applications, such as bioprotection against the pre- and post-harvest decay of vegetables, or as plant growth promoters.
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