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Ground Anthrax Bacillus Refined Isolation (GABRI) method for analyzing environmental samples with low levels of Bacillus anthracis contamination

Antonio Fasanella1*, Pietro Di Taranto1, Giuliano Garofolo2, Valeriana Colao3, Leonardo Marino1, Domenico Buonavoglia3, Carmine Pedarra1, Rosanna Adone4 and Martin Hugh-Jones5

Author affiliations

1 Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Puglia e della Basilicata, Anthrax Reference Institute of Italy, Foggia, Italy

2 Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell’Abruzzo e del Molise “G. Caporale”, Teramo, Italy

3 Departement of Veterinary Medicine, University of Bari, Bari, Italy

4 Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Roma, Italy

5 Department of Environmental Sciences School of the Coast & Environment, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803-5703, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Microbiology 2013, 13:167  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-13-167

Published: 18 July 2013



In this work are reported the results of a qualitative analytical method capable of detecting Bacillus anthracis spores when they are present in very low concentration in the soil. The Ground Anthrax Bacillus Refined Isolation (GABRI) method, assessed in our laboratory, was compared with the classic method. The comparison involved artificially anthrax-contaminated soil samples (500 spores/7.5 grams soil) and naturally contaminated soil samples collected in Bangladesh during a field investigation.


The results indicated that, in contrast to the classic method, the GABRI method was able to detect B.anthracis in all contaminated samples. The GABRI method produces a more sensitive measure of anthrax spore presence significantly different from the standard method. In particular, the latter is more sensitive to the presence of normal soil contaminants.


The main feature of the GABRI method is its ability to strongly reduce the presence of the environmental contaminants, which being much more numerous than B. anthracis tend to inhibit their germination and growth making it extremely difficult to visualize any colonies. The reduction of the microbial environment also allows one to be able to culture and test a larger quantity of potentially contaminated soil and to isolate B. anthracis when the spores are present in very low concentrations in the soil.

Bacillus anthracis; Contaminated soil; Isolation; Method