ABSTRACT

Cereulide-producing Bacillus cereus, which causes foodborne illnesses with vomiting, and psychrotolerant B. cereus group strains such as Bacillus mycoides, which can grow at ≥7°C and cause spoilage of refrigerated foods, are significant concerns for the food industry. Rapid and simple methods to discriminate the cereulide-producing B. cereus and psychrotolerant B. cereus group strains from other B. cereus group strains are needed. We developed a novel, rapid, and simple method with matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization–time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) analysis for simultaneous discrimination of these two groups from other B. cereus group strains. A potassium adduct of cereulide was used to detect cereulide-producing B. cereus, and three ribosomal subunit proteins (L30, S16, and S20) were used to detect psychrotolerant B. cereus group. A total of 51 B. cereus group strains were analyzed by MALDI-TOF MS. The biomarkers allowed successful discrimination of 16 cereulide-producing B. cereus and 15 psychrotolerant B. cereus group strains from other B. cereus group strains. The results showed that this MALDI-TOF MS analysis allows simultaneous discrimination of cereulide-producing B. cereus and psychrotolerant B. cereus group strains from other B. cereus group strains. This efficient method has the potential to be a valuable tool for ensuring food safety.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Hazardous strains of the B. cereus group were simultaneously discriminated.

  • A potassium adduct of cereulide was the biomarker of cereulide-producing B. cereus.

  • Three ribosomal subunit proteins were biomarkers of psychrotolerant strains.

  • MALDI-TOF MS analysis simultaneously discriminated strains and cereulide itself.

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