Bacillus thuringiensis, commonly referred to as Bt, is an object of the lasting interest of microbiologists due to its highly effective insecticidal properties, which make Bt a prominent source of biologicals. To categorize the exuberance of Bt strains discovered, serotyping assays are utilized in which flagellin serves as a primary seroreactive molecule. Despite its convenience, this approach is not indicative of Bt strains’ phenotypes, neither it reflects actual phylogenetic relationships within the species. In this respect, comparative genomic and proteomic techniques appear more informative, but their use in Bt strain classification remains limited. In the present work, we used a bottomup proteomic approach based on fluorescent two-dimensional difference gel electrophoresis (2DDIGE) coupled with liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry(LC-MS/MS) protein identification to assess which stage of Bt culture, vegetative or spore, would be more informative for strain characterization. To this end, the proteomic differences for the israelensis-attributed strains were assessed to compare sporulating cultures of the virulent derivative to the avirulent one as well as to the vegetative stage virulent bacteria. Using the same approach, virulent spores of the israelensis strain were also compared to the spores of strains belonging to two other major Bt serovars, namely darmstadiensis and thuringiensis. The identified proteins were analyzed regarding the presence of the respective genes in the 104 Bt genome assemblies available at open access with serovar attributions specified. Of 21 proteins identified, 15 were found to be encoded in all the present assemblies at 67% identity threshold, including several virulence factors. Notable, individual phylogenies of these core genes conferred neither the serotyping nor the flagellin-based phylogeny but corroborated the reconstruction based on phylogenomics approaches in terms of tree topology similarity. In its turn, the distribution of accessory protein genes was not confined to the existing serovars. The obtained results indicate that neither gene presence nor the core gene sequence may serve as distinctive bases for the serovar attribution, undermining the notion that the serotyping system reflects strains’ phenotypic or genetic similarity. We also provide a set of loci, which fit in with the phylogenomics data plausibly and thus may serve for draft phylogeny estimation of the novel strains.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2244
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2021

    Research areas

  • 2D-DIGE, Bacillus thuringiensis, Bt, Flagellin, Mass spectrometry, Pangenome, Phylogenomics, Phylogeny, Proteomics, Serotyping, Virulence factors

    Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry

ID: 92113823