Bacillus atrophaeus

Bacillus atrophaeus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Bacteria
Phylum: Firmicutes
Class: Bacilli
Order: Bacillales
Family: Bacillaceae
Genus: Bacillus
Species: B. atrophaeus
Binomial name
Bacillus atrophaeus
Nakamura 1989

Bacillus atrophaeus is a species of black-pigmented bacteria. Its type strain is NRRL NRS-213.[1] B. atrophaeus strains have been used extensively in biomedicine as indicator strains for heat- and chemical-based decontamination regimens. Most of the strains in use are derivatives of a lineage of B. atrophaeus that originated at Camp Detrick in the 1950s, where many modern biocontainment procedures were developed.[2][3][4] B. atrophaeus has historically been known by several other names, including B. globigii (the origin of its military moniker "BG") and B. subtilis var. niger. Modern phylogenetic analyses using multiple genetic methods have placed B. atrophaeus close to B. subtilis.[3][5][6] Its original and still most prominent use is as a surrogate organism for pathogenic B. anthracis,[6] beginning in the U.S. bio-weapons program, as its pigmentation readily facilitated discrimination from non-pigmented background organisms in environmental samples. Subsequent genomic and phenotypic analysis of strains derived from the Camp Detrick isolates revealed that they had been deliberately selected for strains that exhibited elevated rates of sporulation[3][7]


  1. Nakamura, L. K. (1989). "Taxonomic Relationship of Black-pigmented Bacillus subtilis Strains and a Proposal for Bacillus atrophaeus sp. nov.". International Journal of Systematic Bacteriology. 39 (3): 295–300. doi:10.1099/00207713-39-3-295. ISSN 0020-7713.
  2. Wedum, Arnold. "Special Report No. 185 (Declassified)" (PDF). Defense Technology Information Center. United States Chemical Corps. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 Gibbons, Henry; et al. (25 Mar 2011). "Genomic signatures of strain selection and enhancement in Bacillus atrophaeus var. globigii, a historical biowarfare simulant". PLoS ONE. 6 (3): e17836. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017836. PMC 3064580Freely accessible. PMID 21464989.
  4. HAYWARD, AE; MARCHETTA, JA; HUTTON, RS (July 1946). "Strain variation as a factor in the sporulating properties of the so-called Bacillus globigii.". Journal of Bacteriology. 52: 51–4. PMID 20994868.
  5. Burke, SA; Wright, JD; Robinson, MK; Bronk, BV; Warren, RL (May 2004). "Detection of molecular diversity in Bacillus atrophaeus by amplified fragment length polymorphism analysis.". Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 70 (5): 2786–90. doi:10.1128/aem.70.5.2786-2790.2004. PMC 404429Freely accessible. PMID 15128533.
  6. 1 2 Greenberg, DL; Busch, JD; Keim, P; Wagner, DM (1 September 2010). "Identifying experimental surrogates for Bacillus anthracis spores: a review.". Investigative genetics. 1 (1): 4. doi:10.1186/2041-2223-1-4. PMID 21092338.
  7. Zhelev, DV; Hunt, M; Le, A; Dupuis, C; Ren, S; Gibbons, HS (December 2012). "Effect of the Bacillus atrophaeus subsp. globigii Spo0F H101R mutation on strain fitness.". Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 78 (24): 8601–10. doi:10.1128/aem.01922-12. PMID 23042165.

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