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Isolation and characterization of Bacillus thuringiensis strains from different grain habitats in Turkey
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Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a gram-positive, spore-forming bacterium and it produces insecticidal crystal (cry) proteins during sporulation. Because the genetic diversity and toxic potential of Bt strains differ from region to region, strains have been collected and characterized all over the world. The aim of this study is to isolate Bt strains in grain-related habitats in Turkey and to characterize them on the basis of crystal morphology, cry gene content, and chromosomal and plasmid DNA profiles. Four approaches were taken analysis with phase contrast (PC) microscopy, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and plasmid isolation. Ninety-six samples were collected from Central Anatolia and the Aegean region. Bt was isolated from 61 of 96 samples (63.5) and 500 Bt-like colonies were obtained. One hundred and sixty three of the colonies were identified as Bt based on cry protein formation using PC microscopy. Among the examined colonies, the overall proportion identified (as Bt index) was 0.33. We found that 103 isolates were positive for the five different cry genes (cry1, cry2, cry3, cry4 and cry9) examined with PCR. In addition, plasmid profiling of 37 cry gene-positive isolates indicated that the 15 kb plasmid band was present in all isolates; however, 11 of 37 isolates had more than one plasmid band at different sizes. Finally, chromosomal DNA profiling by PFGE gave rise to different DNA patterns for isolates containing the same cry gene which suggests a high level of diversity among the Bt strains isolated.