Formation of cereulide and enterotoxins by Bacillus cereus in fermented African locust beans

Line Thorsen, Paulin Azokpota, Bjarne Munk Hansen, Mie Hvillum Rønsbo, Kristian Fog Nielsen, D. Joseph Hounhouigan, Mogens Jakobsen

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    Afitin, iru and sonru are three spontaneously fermented African locust bean Benin condiments. The fermentation processes are exothermic, with temperatures mostly being above 40 °C. A total of 19 predominant Bacillus cereus isolates from afitin, iru and sonru, were investigated. The enterotoxin genes nhe (A, B, C) were present in all 19 isolates, the hbl (A, C, D) in one (afitin), and the cytK gene in three isolates (afitin). Levels of cytotoxicity to Vero cells and NheA production in BHI-broth was within the range of known diarrheal outbreak strains. Autoclaved cooked African locust beans inoculated with emetic (cereulide producing) B. cereus Ba18H2/RIF supported growth at 25, 30 and 40 °C with highly different maximum cereulide productions of 6 ± 5, 97 ± 3 and 0.04 ± 0.02 μg/g beans, respectively (48 h). For non-autoclaved cooked beans inoculated with 2, 4 and 6 log10 B. cereus Ba18H2/RIF spores/g beans, cereulide production was 5 ± 4, 64 ± 8 and 69 ± 34 μg/g beans, respectively at 24 h, while it was 70 ± 43, 92 ± 53 and 99 ± 31 μg/g at 48 h of fermentation at 30 °C. Even though high toxin levels were observed, to date there are no known reports on diarrhea or vomiting due to the consumption or afitin, iru and sonru in Benin, which also according to the present study is likely to be expected from the low levels of cereulide produced at 40 °C.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalFood Microbiology
    Issue number8
    Pages (from-to)1441-1447
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


    • Afitin
    • iru
    • African locust beans (Parkia biglobosa)
    • sonru
    • Bacillus cereus
    • Enterotoxins
    • Cereulide

    Cite this

    Thorsen, L., Azokpota, P., Munk Hansen, B., Rønsbo, M. H., Nielsen, K. F., Hounhouigan, D. J., & Jakobsen, M. (2011). Formation of cereulide and enterotoxins by Bacillus cereus in fermented African locust beans. Food Microbiology, 28(8), 1441-1447.