Variation in Bacillus anthracis

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 13
  • Abstract:

    l. Smooth mucoid colonies developed in anthrax cultures held for long periods at 37°C. in a number of different media. Similar colonies developed in strains attenuated at 42°C. 2. All these smooth mucoid colonies yielded rough variants which were usually less virulent than the smooth parent and which in some cases showed a complete and abrupt loss of virulence. 3. The loss of virulence and smoothness was associated with a loss of the ability to produce capsules both in vitro and in vivo. 4. A number of these rough avirulent daughter strains produced immunity to anthrax in guinea pigs. 5. Fully virulent and freshly isolated anthrax strains always grew smooth mucoid on serum agar in carbon dioxide. 6. These virulent strains rapidly developed rough daughter colonies in the carbon dioxide, in the same way that attenuated smooth mucoid strains developed rough daughters under ordinary conditions (summary 1 and 2). 7. These rough variants obtained on serum agar in carbon dioxide were completely avirulent and uncapsuled in vitro and in vivo. 8. These rough a virulent dissociants were able to produce a high degree of immunity in guinea pigs and preliminary immunity tests on sheep were very promising. 9. Evidence is brought forward concerning the significance of the capsule in virulence and immunity. 10. The above findings are discussed.