Bacillus megaterium

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A Microbial Biorealm page authored by Student Name on the species Genus glogowski


Higher order taxa

Bacteria; Firmicutes; Bacilli; Bacillales; Bacillaceae; Bacillus; Bacillus megaterium


NCBI: Taxonomy

Bacillus megaterium

Description and significance

Bacillus megaterium is a gram positive, endospore forming, rod shaped bacteria. It is considered aerobic. It is found in soil and considered a saprophyte.

Bacillus megaterium is latin for the big beast because it is an extremely large bacteria, it is about 100 times as large as E. coli. Due to its immense size, about 60 micrometers cubed, B. megaterium has been used to study structure, protein localization and membranes of bacteria since the 1950’s. Most notably, B. megaterium is the organism that was used by Lwoff and Guttman in the studies that discovered lysogeny.

Genome structure

Bacillus megaterium is one of the first bacteria's genome that has been fully coded.

Cell structure and metabolism

Gram positive rod, that is motile. It is not capable of butanediol fermentation.


Habitat; symbiosis; contributions to the environment.


Considered non-pathogenic

Current Research

B. megaterium has often been used in the laboratory, and is used as an industrial organism that is able to produce a variety of proteins and sources of bioremediation. Bacillus megaterium is a good source of industrial proteins because it is both a desirable cloning host and produces a large variation of enzymes. This species is good cloning host because it is able to house numerous plasmid vectors while remaining stable due to its unique external proteases. The organism does not have alkaline proteases; which allows for recombinant protein synthesis. Using Bacillus megaterium scientist have developed numerous proteins that are commonly used in the medical and agricultural field. For example, many synthetic penicllins have been derived using the penicillin amidase in the bacteria; harvested glucose dehydrogenase is used in glucose blood tests; ß-Amylases which are often used in the bread industry; and neutral proteases which are used by the leather industry. Several strains have proven to be good hosts for gene expression. One strain, QM B1551, is still used to produce the antigen for HIV Diagnostic Kits. The biotechnological study of the Bacillus megaterium provides a plethora of different proteins that they are able to employ in important medical, scientific and industrial advances.

==References Vary, Patricia S. et al. “Bacillus megaterium- from simple soil bacterium to industrial protein production host.” Applied Microbiology Biotechnology. (2007) 76:957-967

Edited by student of M Glogowskiat Loyola University