Bacillus licheniformis has for many years been used in the industrial production of enzymes, antibiotics and detergents. However, as a producer of dormant heat-resistant endospores B. licheniformis might contaminate semi-preserved foods. The aim of this study was to establish a robust and novel genotyping scheme for B. licheniformis in order to reveal the evolutionary history of 53 strains of this species. Furthermore, the genotyping scheme was also investigated for its use to detect food-contaminating strains.
A multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) scheme, based on the sequence of six house-keeping genes (adk, ccpA, recF, rpoB, spo0A and sucC) of 53 B. licheniformis strains from different sources was established. The result of the MLST analysis supported previous findings of two different subgroups (lineages) within this species, named “A” and “B” Statistical analysis of the MLST data indicated a higher rate of recombination within group “A”. Food isolates were widely dispersed in the MLST tree and could not be distinguished from the other strains. However, the food contaminating strain B. licheniformis NVH1032, represented by a unique sequence type (ST8), was distantly related to all other strains.
In this study, a novel and robust genotyping scheme for B. licheniformis was established, separating the species into two subgroups. This scheme could be used for further studies of evolution and population genetics in B. licheniformis.