Bacillus anthracis: Molecular taxonomy, population genetics, phylogeny and patho-evolution

Pilo, Paola; Frey, J. (2011). Bacillus anthracis: Molecular taxonomy, population genetics, phylogeny and patho-evolution. Infection, genetics and evolution, 11(6), pp. 1218-1224. Amsterdam: Elsevier 10.1016/j.meegid.2011.05.013

Full text not available from this repository. (Request a copy)

Bacillus anthracis, the etiological agent of anthrax, manifests a particular bimodal lifestyle. This bacterial species alternates between short replication phases of 20-40 generations that strictly require infection of the host, normally causing death, interrupted by relatively long, mostly dormant phases as spores in the environment. Hence, the B. anthracis genome is highly homogeneous. This feature and the fact that strains from nearly all parts of the world have been analysed for canonical single nucleotide polymorphisms (canSNPs) and variable number tandem repeats (VNTRs) has allowed the development of molecular epidemiological and molecular clock models to estimate the age of major diversifications in the evolution of B. anthracis and to trace the global spread of this pathogen, which was mostly promoted by movement of domestic cattle with settlers and by international trade of contaminated animal products. From a taxonomic and phylogenetic point of view, B. anthracis is a member of the Bacillus cereus group. The differentiation of B. anthracis from B. cereus sensu strict, solely based on chromosomal markers, is difficult. However, differences in pathogenicity clearly differentiate B. anthracis from B. cereus and are marked by the strict presence of virulence genes located on the two virulence plasmids pXO1 and pXO2, which both are required by the bacterium to cause anthrax. Conversely, anthrax-like symptoms can also be caused by organisms with chromosomal features that are more closely related to B. cereus, but which carry these virulence genes on two plasmids that largely resemble the B. anthracis virulence plasmids. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathobiology (DIP) > Institute of Veterinary Bacteriology

UniBE Contributor:

Pilo, Paola, Frey, Joachim


600 Technology > 630 Agriculture








Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:31

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:10

Publisher DOI:


Web of Science ID:


URI: (FactScience: 218421)

Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback