FEMS microbiology letters

The effect of prolonged storage on the virulence of isolates of Bacillus anthracis obtained from environmental and animal sources in the Kars Region of Turkey.

PMID 26109359


The stability of the plasmid-mediated virulence factors of Bacillus anthracis, a tripartite toxin located on pXO1 and an antiphagocytic capsule encoded by genes located on pXO2, following long-term storage was investigated. A collection of 159 isolates of B. anthracis were collected from the Kars region of Turkey between 2000 and 2013 and stored at -20°C in Brucella broth supplemented with 20% glycerine. A total of 142 isolates were recovered of which one failed to express a capsule upon primary culture. A further 35 isolates yielded a mixture of mucoid and non-mucoid colonies; the majority of which had lost the pXO2 plasmid as determined by PCR analysis. Results would suggest that pXO2 is more unstable than pXO1 and that this instability increases with the length of storage. It is possible that the pXO2-deficient isolates of B. anthracis described here could be developed into a vaccine to treat at risk animals in the Kars region as many animal vaccines are based upon pXO2 deficiency.