Gram stain: positive Cell shape: bacillus Arrangement: chains or single Oxygen requirements: Other: endospore formers. B. cereus forms colonies that are dull and frosted and usually occurs in chains. B. subtilis forms colonies that are dull and may be wrinkled, cream to brown in color; when grown in broth has a coherent pellicle; usually single arrangement.
Habitat: very common in soil and vegetation
Pathogenicity: Normally considered to be non-pathogenic, but B. cereus has been linked to food borne illness causing diarrhea, nausea, vomiting; associated with rice dishes served in oriental restaurants; infection is self-limiting.
The antibiotic "Bacitracin" gets its name from a Bacillus that produced this substance that was removed from a wound in a girl named "Tracy". This drug interferes with peptidoglycan synthesis and is effective against gram positive organisms.
The antibiotic "Polymyxin" is also produced by a member of this genus. It alters the permeability of the cell membrane causing cells to leak their internal contents. It is effective against gram negative organisms.