Final Screening Assessment

Paenibacillus polymyxa American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) 842
Paenibacillus polymyxa ATCC 55407
Paenibacillus polymyxa 13540-4

Environment Canada
Health Canada
August 2015

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Table of Contents

List of Tables

List of Figures


Pursuant to paragraph 74(b) of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999), the Ministers of Environment and of Health have conducted a screening assessment on Paenibacillus polymyxa strains American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) 842, ATCC 55407 and 13540-4.

P. polymyxa strains ATCC 842, ATCC 55407 and 13540-4 share characteristics with other P. polymyxa strains that occur in the environment. P. polymyxa is a facultatively anaerobic bacterium that is present in many environments. It has been isolated from soils, the rhizosphere and roots of plants and from marine sediments. P. polymyxa has a broad host range as a plant growth-promoting bacterium. It has characteristics that make it of potential use in biocontrol, plant growth promotion, in the production of enzymes and specialty chemicals, water and wastewater treatment, and cleaning and degreasing applications.

P. polymyxa is not known as an animal or plant pathogen. Release of these strains into the environment is not expected to adversely affect ecosystems.

 P. polymyxa is not known as a human pathogen. Despite its ubiquity, there have been only two reported cases of P. polymyxa infection in humans, both involving individuals suffering from pre-existing health conditions. Of those cases, only one indicated P. polymyxa as the sole microorganism involved.

This assessment considers the aforementioned characteristics of P. polymyxa ATCC 842, ATCC 55407 and 13540-4 with respect to environmental and human health effects associated with product use and industrial processes subject to CEPA 1999, including releases to the environment through waste streams and incidental human exposure through environmental media. To update information about current uses, the government launched a mandatory information-gathering survey under section 71 of CEPA 1999 as published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on October 3, 2009. Information submitted in response to the notice indicates that P. polymyxa ATCC 55407 was not imported into or manufactured in Canada in 2008, but that P. polymyxa ATCC 842 and 13540-4 are used in consumer and commercial products.

Considering all available lines of evidence presented in the Screening Assessment, there is a low risk of harm to organisms and the broader integrity of the environment from P. polymyxa ATCC 842, ATCC 55407 and 13540-4. It is concluded that P. polymyxa ATCC 842, ATCC 55407 and 13540-4 do not meet the criteria under paragraph 64(a) or (b) of CEPA 1999 as they are not entering the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that have or may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity or that constitute or may constitute a danger to the environment on which life depends.

Also, based on the information presented in the Screening Assessment, it is concluded that P. polymyxa ATCC 842, ATCC 55407 and 13540-4 do not meet the criteria under paragraph 64(c) of CEPA 1999 as they are not entering the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that constitute or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health.

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Pursuant to paragraph 74(b) of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999), the Ministers of Environment and of Health are required to conduct screening assessments of living organisms listed on the Domestic Substances List (DSL) to determine whether they present or may present a risk to the environment or human health (according to criteria as set out in section 64 of CEPA 1999).Footnote[1] Paenibacillus polymyxa ATCC strains 842 and 55407 and Paenibacillus polymyxa 13540-4 were nominated and added to the DSL under subsection 25(1) of CEPA 1988 because they were manufactured in or imported into Canada between January 1, 1984 and December 31, 1986.

This screening assessment considers hazard information obtained from the public domain and unpublished research data, as well as comments from scientific peer reviewers. Exposure information was obtained from the public domain and from a mandatory CEPA 1999 section 71 Notice published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on October 3, 2009. Further details on the risk assessment methodology used are available in the Framework on the Science-Based Risk Assessment of Micro-organisms under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

Data that are specific only to the two non-masked DSL-listed strains, P. polymyxa ATCC 842 and ATCC 55407, are identified as such. Any information specific to the name, use and manufacture or import quantity of the masked strain has been concealed at the request of the nominator, pursuant to the Masked Name Regulations of CEPA 1999, and cannot be disclosed. Surrogate organisms are identified to the taxonomic level provided by the source. Literature searches were conducted using scientific literature databases (SCOPUS, CAB Abstracts, and NCBI), web searches, and key search terms for the identification of human health and environmental hazards of each of the DSL strains assessed in this report. Information identified as of January 2014 was considered for inclusion in this report.

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Decisions from Domestic and International Jurisdictions


P. polymyxa is not subject to any plant or animal health requirements according to Invasive Alien Species & Domestic Programs at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). This organism does not require an import permit under the Plant Protection Act.

P. polymyxa is considered a Risk Group 1 organism for humans and terrestrial animals according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). PHAC does not require an import permit for this micro-organism.


P. polymyxa is listed in the United States Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Substance Inventory under CAS RN number 68038-68-6 (EPA 2011; EPA 1994).

Other P. polymyxa strains are used in three microbial pesticide products: Hydroguard, used to suppress and resist damping-off (bacterial) diseases, is registered in the United States; and Topseed and NH, both used to control damping-off powdery mildew in cucumber, are registered in Korea (Kabaluk and Gazdik 2005).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA) published import alerts for cosmetics products contaminated with P. polymyxa (U.S. Food and Drug Administration 2013).

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1. Hazard Assessment

1.1 Characterization of Paenibacillus polymyxa

1.1.1 Taxonomic identification and strain history

Binomial name: Paenibacillus polymyxa (Prazmowski 1880) (Ash et al. 1994)

Taxonomic designation:
Kingdom Bacteria
Phylum Firmicutes
Class Bacilli
Order Bacillales
Family Paenibacillaceae
Genus Paenibacillus
Species polymyxa
Strains ATCC 842, ATCC 55407 and 13540-4
Superseded names: Bacillus polymyxa (Prazmowski 1880) Mace 1889
(Approved Lists 1980); Aerobacillus polymyxa
(Prazmowski 1880) Donker 1926; Granulobacter polymyxa
(Prazmowski 1880) Beijerinck 1893; Clostridium polymyxa
(Prazmowski 1880) Strain history

P. polymyxa ATCC 842 was isolated by Prazmowski in 1880 (Smith et al. 1964). It was originally deposited by A. J. Kluyver to the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) and then, through a chain of changing custody, was eventually deposited to the Belgian Co-Ordinated Collections of Micro-Organisms (BCCM) by Nolan in 1993. There, it was given the accession number LMG 13294 (BCCM 2013). P. polymyxa ATCC 842 is the type strain of the species and has been deposited in a number of other culture collections, as listed in Table 1-1.

Table 1-1: Listing of current strain designations for P. polymyxa ATCC 842
Culture CollectionStrain Designations
DSMZ-Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen GmbH, Braunschweig, GermanyDSM 36T
Biologicky Ustav, Czech Akademie Ved, Prague, Czech RepublicBUCSAV 162
Czech Collection of Microorganisms, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech RepublicCCM 1459
Japan Collection of Microorganisms, RIKEN BioResource Center, JapanJCM 2507
Laboratorium voor Microbiologie, Universiteit Gent, Gent, BelgiumLMG 13294
National Collection of Industrial Bacteria, Torry Research Station, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK (incorporated with NCIMB)NCIB 8158
National Collection of Type Cultures, Central Public Laboratory Service, London, UKNCTC 10343
Korean Collection for Type Cultures, Genetic Resources Center, Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Taejon, Republic of KoreaKCTC 3858
Agricultural Research Service Culture Collection, National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Peoria, IL, USANRRL B-4317

P. polymyxa ATCC 55407 was isolated from a barn in Dublin, Virginia (USA), and deposited to the ATCC by Sybron Biochemical Corporation. However, it is no longer available from the ATCC (ATCC 2012). P. polymyxa 13540-4 was isolated from spoiled starch; the name of this strain has been masked at the request of the nominator, pursuant to the Masked Name Regulations of CEPA 1999, and cannot be disclosed. Phenotypic and molecular characteristics

Because of its rod-shaped cells, ability to form endospores, and other similarities to the genus Bacillus, P. polymyxa was originally assigned to that genus by Mace in 1889 (Montefusco et al. 1993). Later, Ash et al. (1991) grouped this organism into a phylogenetically distinct cluster, referred to as "group 3," based on comparative analysis of 16S rRNA primary sequences of 1450 and 1490 nucleotides in length, corresponding to approximately 95% of the whole 16S ribosomal subunit (Ash et al. 1991). The organism was eventually reclassified into a separate family Paenibacilliaceae and its type genus Paenibacillus (Priest 2009). The genus Paenibacillus can be differentiated from members of the Bacillaceae by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of 16S rRNA gene fragments, using either the original diagnostic probe that led to reclassification of P. polymyxa and several other members into the genus Paenibacillus (Ash et al. 1993), or a highly specific detection primer PAEN515F that also successfully differentiated Paenibacillus (also including P. polymyxa ATCC 842)from other taxa belonging to Bacillaceae (Shida et al. 1997). The presence of anteiso-C15:0 as the major cellular fatty acid (36.9–81.0%) is also diagnostic of the genus (Shida et al. 1997).

Figure 6-1 (Appendix A) describes the phylogenetic relationships of P. polymyxa to most validly published Paenibacillus species based on the alignment of a 1320 nucleotide fragment of 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequences from representative strains. The DSL strains were not included among the representative strains sequenced.

P. polymyxa is a genetically diverse species exhibiting high levels of interstrain variability (Lal and Tabacchioni 2009; Nübel et al. 1996). Currently the genomes of ten P. polymyxa strains have been sequenced; they show a wide spectrum of sizes, with the largest and smallest genomes differing by 2.1 megabase pairs (NCBI Genome 2014), suggesting the possibility of future taxonomic reclassification of certain members of this species. Characteristics of the type strain, ATCC 842, are reported in Tables 1-2, 1-3, 1-4 and 1-5.

Table 1-2: Growth conditions of P. polymyxa ATCC 842
CharacteristicP. polymyxa ATCC 842Reference
Optimum temperature30ºCBCCM 2013
Growth at 50ºC,NonePriest 2009
Optimum pH7.0Shida et al. 1997
Growth at pH 5.6PositiveShida et al. 1997
Growth in the presence of 5% NaClNoneShida et al. 1997
Table 1-3: Morphological Properties of P. polymyxa ATCC 842
CharacteristicP. polymyxa ATCC 842Reference
Gram stainingPositive: can stain variably or negativePriest 2009; Shida et al. 1997
Cell shapeRodPriest 2009
Cell size0.5–0.8 × 2–5 μmPriest 2009
FlagellaPeritrichousPriest 2009; Shida et al. 1997
MotilityMotilePriest 2009
Spore shapeOval with thick walls and star cross-section,Footnote Table 1-3 [a] swollen sporangiaComas-Riu and Vives-Rego 2002; Shida et al. 1997
Fatty acid profileC15:0 anteiso at 62.9% and C17:0 anteiso at 16.9%Priest 2009; Shida et al. 1997
ColoniesNutrient agar: Pale and thin, often with amoeboid spreading
Glucose agar: usually heaped and mucoid with a matt surface
Priest 2009
Footnote Table 1-3 a

Available information pertains to strain CECT 155, which is a derivative of P. polymyxa ATCC 842

Return to footnote Table 1-3 a referrer

Table 1-4: Biochemical properties of P. polymyxa ATCC 842
CharacteristicP. polymyxa ATCC 842Reference
RespirationFacultative anaerobePriest 2009
ferments glucose and variety of other carbohydrates
Priest 2009;
Shida et al. 1997
CatalasePositivePriest 2009
OxidaseNegativePriest 2009
Nitrate reduction (to nitrite)PositivePriest 2009
Nitrogen fixationPositivePriest 2009
Secondary metabolitesAcetylmethyl-carbinol Indole
Levan (capsule component)
Lal and Tabacchioni 2009;
Lal et al. 2012; Priest 2009;
Shida et al. 1997; Tong et al.
Antimicrobial productionPolymyxin-Colistitin-Circulin familyFootnote Table 1-4 [a]
Fusaricidin-type compounds[a]
Raza et al. 2008
BiofilmPositiveFootnote Table 1-4 [b]Timmusk et al. 2005
Footnote Table 1-4 a

Available information pertains to non-DSL strains

Return to footnote Table 1-4 a referrer

Footnote Table 1-4 b

Available information pertains to strains B1 and B2

Return to footnote Table 1-4 b referrer

Table 1-5: Molecular properties of P. polymyxa ATCC 842
CharacteristicP. polymyxa ATCC 842Reference
G+C Content (mol%)44.9%Jeong et al. 2011; Tong et al. 2013
Genome size (Mb)5.9Jeong et al. 2011; Tong et al. 2013
GenBank Accession no.
(16S rRNA)
AJ320493NCBI Nucleotide 2001; Priest 2009
GenBank Accession no.
(Whole Genome)
AFOX01000000NCBI Nucleotide 2014

1.1.2 Biological and ecological properties

P. polymyxa is a spore-forming bacterium (Priest 2009). As a facultative anaerobe, it can be active under anaerobic conditions and thrives in semi-anaerobic environments, and has a broad host range as a plant growth–promoting bacterium. P. polymyxa is present in many environments: it occurs naturally in marine sediments (Lal and Tabacchioni 2009), and has also been isolated from various soils and from the rhizosphere and roots of forest trees and crop plants, including cultivated olive trees in an organic orchard farm (Blibech 2012), wheat, barley, white clover, perennial ryegrass, crested wheatgrass, green bean, garlic (Raza et al. 2008), maize, sorghum and sugar cane (Lal and Tabacchioni 2009).

A soil persistence study was conducted by Providenti et al. (2009) in which closely related strains of P. polymyxa could be discriminated using quantitative PCR targeting strain-specific non-coding regions in the genome. The study showed that if released into sandy loam soil (pH 5.0, 22°C and 80% relative humidity) at initial densities of ~1 × 106 CFU/g soil, P. polymyxa strains NRRL B-4317 (ATCC 842), ATCC 55407 and 13540-4 would, within one to six months, decline to concentrations near or below the detection limit of ~1 × 102 CFU/g soil (Figure 1). Nine soil cores were prepared for each strain where only strains ATCC 55407 and13540-4 were detected in at least one soil core beyond day 105. In a second experiment, strain NRRL B-4317 fell below the detection limit by day 14 post-inoculation (data not shown).

Figure 1-1: Persistence of DSL strains of P. polymyxa in soil, based on qPCR analyses of extractable soil DNA(taken from Can. J. Microbiol. 55, 1166-1175, with permission)

Figure 1-1 (See the long description below)

Long description of the Figure 1-1

This three-part figure shows the persistence, based on qPCR analyses of extractable DNA, of populations of three strains of Paenibacillus polymyxa introduced into soils. The first part of the figure shows the persistence of P. polymyxa NRRL B-4317 (ATCC 842), in which a population introduced at 10e6 CFU/g soil remains stable, even increasing up to sampling day 42, then declines to the detection limit or below by sampling day 80. The second part shows the persistence of P. polymyxa ATCC 55407, in which the population introduced at approximately 10e7 CFU/g soil remains stable to sampling day 100, then declines to the detection limit by sampling day 140. The third part shows the persistence of P. polymyxa 13540-4, in which the population introduced at approximately 10e6 CFU/g soil declines to the detection limit by sampling day 40, but is then transiently detectable to sampling day 140. Plant growth promotion

P. polymyxa promotes plant growth by increasing nutrient availability (fixing nitrogen and solubilizing phosphorous), improving soil porosity, and producing a number of phytohormones that promote growth. P. polymyxa can fix atmospheric nitrogen under anaerobic conditions (Gaby and Buckley 2012). Soluble phosphorus is a limiting plant nutrient in soil (Hesham, A. E. and Hashem, M. 2011; Malboobi et al. 2009), and a high proportion of available phosphorus in chemical fertilizers becomes rapidly insoluble, and so unavailable to plants (Malboobi et al. 2009). P. polymyxa efficiently solubilizes inorganic phosphorus through the excretion of organic acids. Greenhouse experiments show that inoculating corn with P. polymyxa under different levels of phosphorus chemical fertilizer in calcareous soil caused significant increases in the shoot and root dry weights (28.53 g vs. 26.91 g [6.02% increase] and 2.29 g vs. 1.74 g [31.61% increase], respectively) as well as in phosphorus uptake in the shoots and roots of the plant (81.04 mg vs. 75.98 mg [6.67% increase] and 3.84 mg vs.2.78 mg [38.13% increase], respectively) as compared to the uninoculated controls (Hesham, A. E. and Hashem, M. 2011). P. polymyxa can increase the mass of soil adhering to wheat roots by 57%. This mass increase is accompanied by a change to a more porous soil structure near the roots, which could improve water retention and nutrient transfer in the rhizosphere (Raza et al. 2008). The soil aggregation effect of P. polymyxa may be mediated by levan synthesis (Raza et al. 2008), as the ratio of root-adhering soil dry mass to root tissue dry mass was significantly higher for plants inoculated with a levan-producing wild-type strain CF43  than for plants inoculated with a levan-defective mutant strain SB03 (Bezzate et al. 2000).

Levan may also play a role in biofilm formation. P. polymyxa can form biofilms, which are microbial colonies encased in an adhesive material, usually polysaccharides, attached to a surface. Levan is the polysaccharide produced by P. polymyxa when grown on sucrose (Timmusk 2003). Following colonization of thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) roots with P. polymyxa B1::pCM20, the bacteria formed an intensive biofilm around the root tips of the plant. Several purposes have been suggested for P. polymyxa’s biofilm in relation to its role as a plant growth–promoting bacterium: (1) the  possibility that the P. polymyxa biofilm formation on the roots coincides with the potential colonization sites of pathogens and thereby functions as a protective layer to prevent their access through competitive exclusion; (2) the protective layer might also contribute to the plant-enhanced drought tolerance; and (3) the damage caused by the biofilm at the root tip could in turn cause activation of defense genes against pathogens (Timmusk et al. 2005).

P. polymyxa produces a wide variety of phytohormones that help regulate plant growth and development. These include auxins, especially indole-3-acetic acid (IAA), and cytokinins, including iso-pentenyladenine (iP). Auxin production was evaluated in a study involving 68 strains of P. polymyxa, includingtheDSL strain ATCC 842 (DSM 36). All could produce IAA up to 17 µg/mL in the culture supernatant. The DSL strain ATCC 842 (DSM 36) was among those producing the lowest level of IAA at 1 µg/mL culture supernatant (Da Mota et al. 2008). In a study involving stationary growthphase of P. polymyxa strain B2 isolated from wheat rhizosphere, iso-pentenyladenine and another unknown cytokinin-like compound were extracted from the growth medium at a concentration of 1.5 nM. Cytokinins may be active in very low quantities because of the very small volume of the micro-environments into which they are excreted and the co-presence of auxins in the rhizosphere that could act synergistically with the cytokinin (Timmusk et al. 1999). Volatile organic compounds, including acetoin and 2,3-butanediol produced by P. polymyxa, also promote plant growth (Ryu et al. 2003). P. polymyxa produces acetoin in the presence of oxygen, and accumulates 2,3-butanediol in significant quantities as a product of fermentation under intermediate oxygen concentrations (De Mas et al. 1988; Mankad and Nauman 1992).

P. polymyxa has the potential to be used in biosorption of certain heavy metals. P. polymyxa strain P13 has been described as an exopolysaccharide (EPS) producer: it was shown that 100 mL of a stationary phase P13 culture formed 27±4 mg and 15±4 mg EPS in Brain-Heart Infusion (BHI) medium containing 1 M NaCl and in control BHI medium without NaCl, respectively. Strain P13 exhibited significant biosorption capacity of industry-originated Cu(II). EPS production was associated with hyperosmotic stress by high salt concentrations of 1 M NaCl, leading to a significant increase in the biosorption capacity of whole cells (Acosta et al. 2005). The absorption of P. polymyxa cells or EPS production by these micro-organisms on the surface of several minerals has been reported as a method to selectively separate certain metal ions from binary mixtures. Bioflocculation of high-ash Indian coals using P. polymyxa showed a 60% decrease in ash, suggesting that selective flocculation of coal was possible (Lal and Tabacchioni 2009).  Biocontrol

P. polymyxa has biocontrol potential against insects and nematodes, as well as bacterial and fungal plant diseases.

It is thought that P. polymyxa can prevent the proliferation of the nematode Meloidogyne javanica by producing siderophores that bind most of the Fe (III) in the area around the plant root. The resulting lack of iron prevents the nematode from proliferating in the immediate vicinity of the roots (Siddiqui et al. 2007). Similarly, reports of adverse effects caused by two different strains of P. polymyxa against another nematodes (Meloidogyne incognita) were later reported by Siddiqui and Akhtar (2008), who studied protective effects of an unidentified strain in tomatoes, and also by Akhtar and Panwar (2013), who tested biocontrol properties of strain MTCC 122 in peas.

Exposure of the root-knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita to various concentrations (5–100%) of P. polymyxa GBR-I culture filtrate significantly reduced egg hatching of the nematode and caused substantial mortality of its juveniles. At higher concentrations of 25–100%, egg hatching was inhibited by 84–91% after 2 days of exposure as compared to sterile distilled water controls. Overall, the severity of effects was proportional to the concentrations of the P. polymyxa culture filtrates and exposure durations. Those results were further confirmed by the application of a bacterial suspension of P. polymyxa GBR- I into the soil of potted tomato plants 3 days prior to inoculation of the nematode, which reduced nematode populations by 91.3% and root galling by 62.5%, compared with untreated controls (Khan et al. 2008).

In a greenhouse, tomato seedlings were challenged with M. incognita (3000 eggs). Compared with untreated controls, seedlings treated with P. polymyxa strain T79 (1.0 × 109 CFU per pot) showed a significant (P=0.05) reduction in per-gram root numbers of the second-stage juveniles, females, total nematodes, egg masses, and number of nematode eggs per egg mass (Liu et al. 2012).

In another greenhouse experiment involving different bacteria, inoculation of M. incognita–infested tomato plants (1000 fresh second-stage juveniles per plant) with P. polymyxa NFB7 (2 × 108 CFU per pot) after 60 days resulted in highreductions in nematode population compared with the uninoculated, nematode-infested controls, as follows: 95.8% for number of hatched juveniles/root, 85% for number of females per root, and 95.16% for number of juveniles per kilogram of soil (El-Hadad et al. 2011).

P. polymyxa also has biocontrol potential against the olive tree insect pests Hylesinus oleiperda and Phloeotribus scarabaeoides. In feeding assays, P. polymyxa isolates Pp10, Pp11, Pp12, Pp22 and Pp24, at an inoculation dose of 3 × 107 CFU per petri dish containing larvae, caused mortality of up to 55% in larvae of these coleopterans 7 days post-inoculation. Proteins found in P. polymyxa supernatants were toxic to P. oleae and P. scarabaeoides larvae, with LC50 values of 37.6 µg/mL and 12.4 µg/mL, respectively (Blibech et al. 2012). Similarly, in another study, Blibech (2012) found a different strain of P. polymyxa (strain I10) to be pathogenic to coleopteran insects. These results, taken together with the ability of P. polymyxa to survive in the olive tree roots, can be considered promising for biocontrol of these agricultural pests (Blibech 2012).

Other Paenibacillus species are also active against coleopteran larvae. P. popilliae and P. lentimorbus are pathogens of the Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica) larvae, and larvae of several related scarab beetles (white grubs). They cause Milky Spore Disease in the beetle larvae and so have potential use in biocontrol (Dingman 2008). 

Antibiotic production is a frequently encountered but non-uniform characteristic of P. polymyxa (Beatty and Jensen 2002), which may contribute to biocontrol of bacterial and fungal plant diseases. It is known to produce two families of chromosomally encoded peptide antibiotics (Kim et al. 2010a; Raza et al. 2008). In addition, there are many reports of antimicrobial and antifungal properties in which the nature of the inhibitory agent is undefined (Raza et al. 2008), and which require the presence of living bacteria for continuous suppression (Dijksterhuis et al. 1999). The Polymyxin-Colistin-Circulin family includes polymyxins (A, B1, B2, C, D, E1, E2, M, S1 and T1), polypeptins (A), polyxin, jolipeptin and saltavalin. Polymyxin B and Polymyxin E (Colistin) are used clinically for their antibacterial activities against a wide variety of Gram-negative bacteria, including Escherichia coli, Klebsiella spp., Enterobacter spp., Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter spp., Salmonella spp., some Shigella spp., Pasteurella spp., and Haemophilus spp. (Landman et al. 2008; Park et al. 2012).

However, a wide variety of Gram-negative bacteriaare resistant to polymyxins (Landman et al. 2008).Polymyxins are cationic agents that bind to the anionic bacterial outer membrane and disrupt membrane integrity and permeability. They show a high affinity for the lipid moiety of lipopolysaccharide and can inactivate endotoxins (Landman et al. 2008; Raza et al. 2008) and inhibit cellular respiration (Raza et al. 2008). Because of the disruptive effect on membrane integrity, Gram-negative bacteria may become even more susceptible to hydrophobic antimicrobials (e.g. erythromycin) following exposure to polymyxins (Landman et al. 2008).

The Fusaricidin family includes Fusaricidins A, B, C and D (produced by P. polymyxa  strains PKB1 and SQR-21), gavaserin, gatavalin (produced by P. polymyxa ssp. Colistinus koyama) and a series of peptides designated as LI-F03, LI-F04, LI-F05, LI-F07 and LIF08 (Beatty and Jensen 2002). The antimicrobial activity of the fusaricidins varies depending on the amino acids present at three variable positions in the peptide moiety (Li et al. 2007), but the family is less diverse than the Polymyxin-Colistin-Circulin group (Raza et al. 2008). Fusaricidins have an excellent antifungal activity against plant pathogenic fungi such as Fusarium oxysporum, Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus oryzae and Penicillium thomii.Fusaricidin B, in particular, has antagonistic activity against Candida albicans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Fusaricidins also have an excellent germicidal activity against Gram-positive bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Micrococcus luteus. In addition, they have antifungal activity against Leptosphaeria maculans, which causes black root rot of canola (Choi et al. 2008). While fusaricidins are strongly active against fungi and Gram-positive bacteria, they have no activity even at 100 µg/mL against all Gram-negative bacteria tested (Kajimura and Kaneda 1997).

Lectins are glycoconjugate-binding proteins with some enzymatic activity that are widely distributed in nature (Lakhtin et al. 2011). Lectins I and II isolated from P. polymyxa 1460 were able to suppress the growth of Rhizobium leguminosarum 252 and Bacillus subtilis 36 at nearly all the concentrations tested (from 1–10 µg/mL). Lectin I was inhibitory to Azospirillum brasilense 245and Erwinia carotovora subsp. citrulis 603, while lectin II exerted bactericidal activity against Xanthomonas campestris B-610 and B-611 and A. brasilense 245. The inhibitory activity of lectins is thought to be mediated by their interactions with the lectin-specific receptors occurring on the bacterial membrane, leading to conformational changes in the membrane and concurrent malfunction of the metabolism of bacterial cells (Karpunina et al. 2003).

P. polymyxa strains produce many hydrolytic enzymes, making them valuable antagonists to control plant pathogens (Raza et al. 2008).

Chitinase and β-1,3-glucanase were produced when different strains of P. polymyxa,including the DSL strain ATCC 842 (Mavingui and Heulin 1994), were grown in the presence of colloidal chitin as the sole carbon source. Chitinases are thought to aid in the antagonistic effects of bacteria against fungal plant pathogens such as Basidiomycetes (Mavingui and Heulin 1994; Nielsen and Sørensen 1997). P. polymyxa strains CM5-5 and CM5-6 can produce cellulase and mannanase (Nielsen and Sørensen 1997). Two xylanases have been isolated from P. polymyxa strains CECT 153 and ATCC 842 (LMG 6319) (Morales et al. 1993); these enzymes are involved in degradation of cellulose and certain glycoproteins available in the cell walls of Oomycetes (Nielsen and Sørensen 1997), and therefore have potential in biocontrol. 

In addition, certain P. polymyxa strains isolated from poultry production environments (i.e. NRRL B-30507, NRRL B-30509 and NRRL B-30508) were shown to produce bacteriocins with inhibitory action against Campylobacter jejuni (Svetoch et al. 2005).  This finding suggests a potential application for these organisms in the production of food bio-preservatives for the management of Campylobacter infection in poultry.  Probiotic Activity

P. polymyxa has been used in aquaculture due to its probiotic properties (reviewed in (Hong et al. 2005). Health-promoting effects were seen in fish-feeding trials involving blends of P. polymyxa with other bacteria. All studies showed significant positive effects in various health and growth parameters measured in larvae of Persian Sturgeon (Acipencer percicus) (Jafarian et al. 2009a) and Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) (Jafarian et al. 2009b). No adverse effects were reported as a result of consumption of the probiotic formulations, in any of the studies discussed.  Spore formation

P. polymyxa forms ellipsoidal spores that distinctly swell the sporangium or mother cell (Lal and Tabacchioni 2009) and that have thick walls with a star-shaped cross-section (Comas-Riu and Vives-Rego 2002). Spores of P. polymyxa can resist harsh environmental conditions, including extremes of temperature, pH, high pressure, aridity, UV irradiation and chemical infiltration (reviewed in Huo et al. 2012). The spores remain in a dormant state for long periods of time and germinate when conditions are suitable for vegetative growth (Setlow 2003). In P. polymyxa SQR-21 (a well-recognized biocontrol agent), the sporulation temperature has been found to affect the resistance and germination properties of its spores. For example, spores prepared at a higher temperature of 37°C showed more heat resistance than those prepared at 25°C and 30°C. However, the germination rate was negatively correlated with the sporulation temperature (Huo et al. 2012). Horizontal gene transfer

No plasmids have been identified in the DSL strains of P. polymyxa, and it is not known whether they possess other mobile genetic elements. However, two other strains carry large plasmids (Table 1-6) encoding a number of vital genes essential for metabolism. The 510 115 base pair plasmid of strain SC2 contains essential genes involved in the metabolism of purines, pyrimidines and lipids, and genes for ribosomal proteins, translation elongation factors and DNA methyl transferases (Ma et al. 2011). The 366 576 base pair plasmid in strain M-1 contains essential genes encoding ribosomal proteins and genes involved in replication, DNA repair and methylation, transcription, translation initiation, metabolism of amino acids and carbohydrates, transport, and drug resistance (Niu et al. 2011).

Table 1-6: Sequenced genomes and plasmids of P. polymyxa strains
Strain/plasmidTypeSize (Mb)Guanine-cytosine content (%)No. proteins encodedGenBank Accession No.

In an experimental setting, the use of a previously described soil-isolated P. polymyxa bacteriophage IPy1 and P. polymyxa strain Loutit, which is a naturally compatible host for IPy1 (Seldin et al. 1984), was investigated as a host-vector system for molecular biology. The phage successfully mediated transduction of plasmid DNA into the bacterium. Transductions of that strain containing the antibiotic resistance-marked plasmids pC194, pBC16 and pRJ45 were detected at frequencies of 5× 10−7 to 1.2 × 10−6 per plaque-forming unit (PFU). Rearrangements or deletions were not detected in these plasmids as a consequence of transduction. Plasmid pC194 was also transferred to different P. polymyxa strains by the IPy1 phage. Different fragments of phage IPy1 DNA cloned into plasmid pRJ45 resulted in an increase of frequency of transduction of the new plasmids (pRJI13, pRJI21 and pRJI41) into P. polymyxa strain Loutit at a frequency of 1.2 to 6.5× 10−4 per PFU (Ferreira et al. 1999). Pathogenic and toxigenic properties and antibiotic susceptibility

Literature searches did not identify virulence determinants or toxins associated with P. polymyxa that would allow it to infect aquatic or terrestrial plants or animals, or humans.

The only information available on antimicrobial susceptibility testing of P. polymyxa pertains to screening of the organism isolated from the blood culture of one of the two reported bacteremia cases, which indicated that P. polymyxa was resistant to penicillin but sensitive to cefazolin, vancomycin, chloramphenicol, tobramycin, gentamicin, ciprofloxacin and clindamycin (Galanos et al. 2003).

Although P. polymyxa could theoretically acquire virulence genes (including antibiotic resistance determinants) through horizontal transfer from other bacteria, the potential for this is no greater for the DSL strains than for other P. polymyxa strains that are naturally present in the environment.

1.1.3 Effects Effects on the environment
Terrestrial plants

In spite of the well-accepted role of P. polymyxa as a plant growth–promoting bacterium, a few studies have shown that it can also act as a deleterious rhizobacterium under certain circumstances. Inoculation of thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana)with P. polymyxa (in the absence of biotic or abiotic stress) resulted in a 30% reduction in plant growth, as well as a stunted root system, compared to non-inoculated plants (Timmusk and Wagner 1999; Timmusk 2003).

In another study involving colonization of roots of Arabidopsis thaliana ecotype C24 by P. polymyxa strainB1(isolated from rhizosphere of wheat), the bacterium predominantly colonized the root tips, where it formed biofilms and behaved as a root-invading organism. This was evident by heavy accumulation of bacterial cells at 106 cells/g root weight and formation of a semi-transparent material suggestive of an extracellular matrix within only 2 hours of inoculation. Due to the tight cover that the abundant colonizing cells formed, initially it was difficult to assess the damage caused by the bacteria. Nevertheless, indications of damage at the epidermal root cap during 5 hours of incubation were evident in the images provided. During the longer inoculation period, a second biofilm zone formed in the root differentiation region, and the root became progressively more affected. At 24 hours, the root was even more heavily populated with the organism at 109 CFU/g root weight and was severely damaged (Timmusk et al. 2005). The authors, attempting to reconcile the deleterious and beneficial activities of P. polymyxa observed in the same plant host system, suggested (1) the possibility that the P. polymyxa biofilm formation on the roots coincides with the potential colonization sites of pathogens and thereby functions as a protective layer to prevent their access through competitive exclusion; (2) the protection layer might also contribute to the plant-enhanced drought tolerance; and (3) the damage caused by the biofilm at the root tip could in turn cause activation of defense genes against other pathogens (Timmusk et al. 2005).

P. polymyxa caused blight in tomato seedlings grown from seeds inoculated with a suspension of 1 × 106 CFU/mL P. polymyxa isolated from naturally diseased seedlings. Numerous necrotic flecks were observed on the stems, cotyledons, and, occasionally, the roots of seedlings. Similar results were observed following artificial inoculation of germ-free tomato seeds with P. polymyxa ATCC 842 and 8523 (Caruso et al. 1984).

Aquatic plants and algae

An unidentified Paenibacillus species was isolated from brown Irish edible seaweeds (Himanthalia elongata, Laminaria sachharina and Laminaria digitata), apparently as part of the normal microflora. No associated adverse effects were reported (Gupta et al. 2010). A comprehensive scientific literature search did not reveal any further reports of P. polymyxa or other Paenibacillus species in association with aquatic plants.

Terrestrial invertebrates

P. polymyxa has been investigated for use as a biocontrol agent for its ability to adversely affect pest nematodes and insects. Outside of experimental challenge settings, adverse effects in invertebrates have not been reported in the literature. However, given data obtained from the challenge experiments, it is possible that such effects could be observed in some invertebrates at high P. polymyxa concentrations.

The genus Paenibacillus contains a number of entomopathogenic species, such as P. larvae, P. alvei, P. popilliae and P. lentimorbus.

P. larvae is the causative agent of American foulbrood, which is one of the most deleterious bacterial honey bee diseases, affecting the larval stages of bees. This disease kills the infected larvae and has the potential to destroy infected colonies (reviewed in Genersch 2008). Whole genome analysis of P. larvae revealed open reading frames very similar to those of (a) synthetases of the antibiotic plipastatin (that inhibits phospholipase A2); (b) a surfactin (with hemolytic activity); (c) putative type I polyketide synthetases whose products are secondary metabolites with potential antibiotic, immunosuppressant or toxic effects; and (d) homologues of a putative iron-siderophore ABC transporter, which enables iron uptake from the medium (Chan et al. 2011). In addition, P. larvae secretes highly active extracellular proteases during the process of infection, which facilitates invasion of the haemocoel and killing of the larva (Genersch 2008). In the phylogenetic analysis of the genus Paenibacillus (Appendix A), P. polymyxa clusters distantly from P. larvae.

P. alvei, an organism that can occur as a secondaryinvader of honey bees (Apis mellifera) during outbreaks of European foulbrood, is capable of producing signs in larvae that are similar to the signs produced by P. larvae (Djordjevic et al. 2000). Analysis of the P. alvei genome sequence revealed that this organism harbours genes to produce a variety of toxins, such as a putative mosquitocidal toxin as well as an insecticidal toxin complex that produces orally active toxins located on the surface of the organism. In addition, P. alvei has genes encoding chitinases (discussed in section and hyaluronate lyases that are known virulence factors which damage eukaryotic connective tissues (Djukic et al. 2012). P. polymyxa, in its role as a plant growth–promoting bacterium, is known to stimulate plants to produce chitinase, which can protect them against some fungal pathogens. Only one study (Mavingui and Heulin 1994) has demonstrated chitinase activity in P. polymyxa. Nevertheless, despite P. polymyxa's ability to produce chitinase, this organism has never been reported as a pathogen of honey bees. A comprehensive literature search did not find any reports on P. polymyxa-specific hyaluronate lyases. In addition, the phylogenetic analysis of the genus Paenibacillus (Appendix A) clearly shows that P. polymyxa clusters distantly from P. alvae.

Aquatic invertebrates

As indicated earlier, different strains of P. polymyxa (including the DSL strain ATCC 842) are capable of producing chitinase (Mavingui and Heulin 1994), an enzyme that can degrade chitin, which is a major component of the exoskeleton of aquatic crustaceans. Accordingly, different chitinolytic prokaryotic and eukaryotic microbes are thought to be involved in the generation of shell disease and associated shell lesions in crustaceans (reviewed in Quinn et al. 2013). However, surveys of bacterial communities involved with shell lesions/disease in the American Lobster (Homarus americanus) or Edible Crab (Cancer pagurus) affected by that disease did not find P. polymyxa or other members of the Paenibacillus genus among the micro-organisms involved in those cases (Quinn et al. 2013; Vogan et al. 2002, respectively).

In addition, a comprehensive scientific literature search did not reveal any further reports involving P. polymyxa or other members of the Paenibacillus genus as a pathogen of aquatic invertebrates.

Aquatic vertebrates

There is evidence implicating P. thiaminolyticus as a source of thiaminase in aquatic and terrestrial animals. Under laboratory conditions, P. thiaminolyticus, which is found in viscera of certain prey fish, caused mortality when it was fed to Lake Trout. Thiaminase I, a vitamin B1–degrading enzyme produced by P. thiaminolyticus, has been blamed for thiamine deficiency and related mortality in fish. However, further investigations showed no relationship between thiaminase activity and either the amount of P. thiaminolyticus thiaminase I protein or the abundance of P. thiaminolyticus cells measured in multiple trophic levels of Great Lakes food webs (fish, zooplankton, and dreissenid mussels). Therefore, it was concluded that P. thiaminolyticus was not the primary source of thiaminase activity affecting Great Lakes salmonides (Richter et al. 2012). Phylogenetically, P. thiaminolyticus is most closely related to P. popillae, which causes disease in the Japanese Beetle (Iiyama et al. 2013), and which clusters distantly from P. polymyxa.

In addition, there are feeding studies where P. polymyxa (alone or blended with other organisms) was investigated for its probiotic potential in different species of fish, as discussed in Section (Jafarian et al. 2009a, Jafarian et al. 2009b). No associated adverse effects were reported as a result of consumption of the probiotic formulations, in any of the studies reviewed.

Terrestrial vertebrates

A Paenibacillus species was cultured from the blood of a Friesian dairy cow showing signs consistent with bacterial endocarditis. The source of infection was suggested as accidental ingestion of a contaminated metal object and its penetration into the wall of the reticulum (Watts and Tulley 2013). The isolated Paenibacillus species was not adequately identified in the report to determine the extent of its relatedness to the DSL strains assessed here. Effects on human health

Thus far, there are only two reports of P. polymyxa associated with human infection, and in only one case was P. polymyxa the only isolated organism. One case of bacteraemia due to P. polymyxa involved a 93-year-old woman hospitalized for a cerebral infarction. The authors speculated that P. polymyxa might have entered her circulation through broken skin on her hands while gardening (Nasu et al. 2003). Another case of recurrent bacteremia involving an unspecified strain of P. polymyxa and two other bacillus species were reported in an 18-year-old immune-competent female patient with an underlying mental illness (Munchausen syndrome) involving at least one prior episode of self-injection of soil. The source of the organisms was postulated to be self-injection of a polymicrobial product containing Bacillus spores, given the patient's past history of psychiatric illness and self-destructive behavior (Galanos et al. 2003).

Other Paenibacillus speciesoccasionally cause disease in humans or are isolated from clinical samples. P. alvei is the species most commonly reported in association with human infection. It has been isolated from samples of cerebrospinal fluid, blood and pleural fluid, and on a foreign body extracted from the eye (Ouyang et al. 2008). In additional cases of infection attributed to P. alvei and P. macerans, the taxonomic identity of the causative agent was not definitive. These include cases of endophthalmitis, meningitis, prosthetic hip infections, wound infections and catheter-associated infections (Kim et al. 2010).

Table 1-7: Human case reports involving other Paenibacillus species
Case DescriptionAssociated BacteriaClinical Details/OutcomeReferences
Bacteremia in a patient with multiple medical problems and an indwelling catheterP. thiaminolyticusIntravenous antibiotic therapy (pipericillin and an aminoglycoside) effectively controlled the infection.Ouyang et al. 2008
Bacteremia involving five injection drug usersP. larvaeAll but one recovered either with no treatment or treated with β-lactam antibiotics.Rieg et al. 2010
Brain abscess following a periorbital injuryP. macerans and a Clostridium speciesAntimicrobial therapy was ineffective and patient died.Bert et al. 1995
Endocarditis with recent history of tympanoplastyP. popilliaeThe infection was controlled by intravenous penicillin G therapy.Wu et al. 1999
Cardiac device associated endocarditisP. glucanolyticusThe infection was controlled with trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole and erythromycin.Ferrand et al. 2013
The organism was isolated from sputum of a patient with pulmonary diseaseP. sputiSigns or symptoms of a serious infection were absent.
The organism was susceptible to ampicillin, chloramphenicol, erythromycin, neomycin, penicillin G, rifampicin, streptomycin, tetracycline, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole and vancomycin, and resistant to kanamycin.
Kim et al. 2010
Secondary mediastinitisP. pasadenensisThe patient presented signs of infection, e.g., malaise, fever and elevated inflammation markers as well as discharge of clear liquid from the sternal wound.
Treatment with vancomycin, clindamycin and ciprofloxacin controlled the infection.
Anikpeh et al. 2010

The phylogenetic analysis of the genus Paenibacillus (Appendix A) clearly demonstrates that P. polymyxa clusters distantly from the other Paenibacillus species associated with human infection. All reported cases of Paenibacillus infection (including P. polymyxa) involved patients with pre-existing health conditions or broken skin, or who had undergone invasive medical procedures.

1.2 Hazard severity

There is little information in the literature to suggest that P. polymyxa is pathogenic to aquatic or terrestrial plants, vertebrates or invertebrates, in spite of its widespread distribution in the environment. No reports of animal or plant diseases are attributed to P. polymyxa strains ATCC 842, ATCC 55407 or 13540-4. As discussed previously in this document, P. polymyxa has promising plant growth–promoting/biocontrol properties, and appears to have a history of safe use based on the range of products known to be in commerce and on an absence of reports of adverse effects. A few experimental challenge studies have suggested some potential for adverse effects in plants when directly inoculated with high concentrations of P. polymyxa (~1 × 106 bacteria per mL ) (Timmusk et al. 2005). Adverse effects in certain pest nematodes and insects were also observed at inocula of 107–109 CFU (Blibech et al. 2012; El-Hadad et al. 2011; Liu et al. 2012). This suggests that the effective dose for deleterious effects is likely to be high, and therefore the hazard posed to these target organisms can be considered low. In addition, P. polymyxa has been used as a probiotic in Persian Sturgeon and Rainbow Trout without negative effects reported.

As discussed earlier, certain other Paenibacillus species are implicated in disease among insects under natural conditions, but these are phylogenetically distinct from P. polymyxa. The environmental hazard severity for P. polymyxa strainsATCC 842, ATCC 55407 and 13540-4 is therefore estimated to be low.

To date, there are only two reports of human infection involving P. polymyxa, one involving self-injection of a polymicrobial product containing P. polymyxa and the other involving a serious comorbidity (Galanos et al. 2003; Nasu et al. 2003). Taken together with the ubiquity of this organism, the significance of these two cases appears to be negligible. Case reports of other Paenibacillus species isolated from blood or bodily fluids involved species thought not to be closely related to P. polymyxa. These cases were also associated with pre-existing health conditions, invasive medical procedures (Ouyang et al. 2008), or significant breaches in normal barriers to infection (Anikpeh et al. 2010; Galanos et al. 2003; Nasu et al. 2003). Furthermore, the implicated species are phylogenetically distinct from P. polymyxa. In the unlikely event of P. polymyxa infection, there are effective antibiotic treatments available (Galanos et al. 2003). The human hazard severity for P. polymyxa strainsATCC 842, ATCC 55407 and 13540-4 is estimated to be low.

Hazards related to micro-organisms used in the workplace should be classified under the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)Footnote[2]

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2. Exposure Assessment

2.1 Sources of exposure

This assessment focuses on exposure to P. polymyxa ATCC 842, ATCC 55407 and 13540-4 from their deliberate addition to consumer or commercial products or their use in industrial processes.

P. polymyxa ATCC 842, ATCC 55407 and 13540-4 were nominated to the DSL in 1997 and 1998 because they were manufactured in or imported into Canada between January 1, 1984 and December 31, 1986. Strain ATCC 55407 was nominated for use in industrial applications. Uses of strains ATCC 842 and 13540-4 are kept confidential at the request of the nominators.

In 2007, a voluntary questionnaire was sent to a subset of key biotechnology companies in Canada. The responses, combined with information obtained from other federal government regulatory and non-regulatory programs, indicated thatP. polymyxa 13540-4 was not used. However, survey responses indicated that up to 9400 kg of products potentially containing P. polymyxa ATCC 842 and up to a total of 6 × 1012 CFU P. polymyxa ATCC 55407 (the formulation and concentration were unknown in both cases), as well as small quantities of strain ATCC 55407 for research and development, were imported into or manufactured in Canada in 2006.

In 2009, the Government conducted a mandatory information-gathering Notice under section 71 of CEPA 1999 as published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on October 3, 2009 (hereafter referred to as the s.71 Notice). The s.71 Notice applied to any persons who, during the 2008 calendar year, manufactured or imported P. polymyxa ATCC 842, ATCC 55407 or 13540-4, whether alone, in a mixture, or in a product. Multiple responses were received relating to the DSL-listed P. polymyxa strains, indicating that approximately 2000 kg of products containing ATCC 842, ATCC 55407 or 13540-4 were imported into or manufactured in Canada in 2008 for consumer and commercial uses.

In a follow-up to the s.71 Notice, the nominator confirmed that they no longer import P. polymyxa ATCC 55407. Furthermore, this strain is no longer available for purchase from the ATCC, reducing the likelihood of its use in future applications.

The DSL P. polymyxa strains have properties that make them of commercial interest in a variety of industries, particularly in bioremediation, water treatment and consumer products. The recent increase in the number of publications related to this organism may also be reflective of a growing commercial interest in P. polymyxa.

With the exception of biocontrol and plant growth promotion, P. polymyxa is primarily used as a production organism for a variety of enzymes and specialty chemicals:

In other applications, P. polymyxa could be used alone or with other micro-organisms to colonize a particular environment and produce enzymes and other molecules in situ to perform a specific function. A search of the public domain identified the following ongoing consumer, commercial and industrial applications of other naturally occurring P. polymyxa strains:

2.2 Exposure characterization

Human or environmental exposure to P. polymyxa ATCC 55407 is not currently expected, based on responses to the s. 71 Notice (which indicates that the strain was not used in consumer or commercial products or for industrial processes in Canada in 2008), on confirmation from the nominator that they no longer import this strain into Canada, and on its being unavailable for purchase from the ATCC. However, human and environmental exposure to P. polymyxa strains ATCC 842 and 13540-4 is estimated to be medium, because imported products were reported in the s.71 survey.

Given the range and scale of known and potential applications of the species, human and environmental exposure scenarios arising from potential future uses of the DSL P. polymyxa strains, which could increase exposure, have been considered along with persistence and survival properties of these micro-organisms.

2.2.1 Environment

Environmental exposure scenarios based on known uses of DSL-listed and other P. polymyxa strains and on probable future uses described in Section 2.1 indicate that sources of exposure are likely to introduce P. polymyxa ATCC 842 and 13540-4 into aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

The magnitude of plant and animal exposure to P. polymyxa ATCC 842 and 13540-4 will depend on their persistence and survival in the environment. P. polymyxais an endospore-forming facultative anaerobe, capable of thriving in environments with limited oxygen availability. This explains its ubiquity in soils and in the rhizosphere of various plants as well as in deeper sub-surface zones in marine sediments. Its spores can remain in a dormant state for long periods, being resistant to many environmental stressors. Under favourable conditions the spores germinate and produce vegetative cells. As discussed earlier, a soil persistence study (Providenti et al. 2009) showed that, within one to six months in terrestrial systems, P. polymyxa strains NRRL B-4317 (ATCC 842) and 13540-4 decline from initial densities of ~1 × 106 CFU/g soil to concentrations near or below the detection limit of ~1 × 102 CFU/g soil. This rapid decline of P. polymyxa’s population size, following its introduction into the soil, could be due to the common phenomenon of soil microbiostasis, which is defined as the growth or survival-inhibitory effect of soil that is attributed to the scarcity of available nutrient sources for microbes in soil, and to the hostility of the soil environment to incoming microbes due to a myriad of adverse abiotic and biotic factors (van Veen et al. 1997). Although this evidence suggests that P. polymyxa strains introduced to soil and water will likely decrease to background levels over time, under sub-optimal conditions the spores of P. polymyxa strains are likely to persist and could accumulate in the environment. Should P. polymyxa ATCC 55407 become available in Canada, its exposure scenarios are expected to be similar to P. polymyxa ATCC 842 and 13540-4.

2.2.2 Human

Human exposure is expected primarily through direct contact with consumer products containing P. polymyxa ATCC 842 or 13540-4. Skin and eye contact, and inhalation of aerosolized droplets or particles containing the strains, are likely routes of direct exposure.

Secondary to product application, residual P. polymyxa ATCC 842 or 13540-4 on surfaces and in reservoirs such as treated drains could result in dermal exposure, as well as exposure through inadvertent ingestion where the organism persists on food preparation surfaces and through inhalation where aerosols are generated (e.g. from kitchen garbage disposal units). Since P. polymyxa is expected to persist in certain sites (such as drains) following application, such exposures may be temporally distant from the time of application.

Should commercial products containing P. polymyxa ATCC 55407 become available in Canada, the general population could be exposed as bystanders during commercial product application. The extent of bystander exposure will depend on the mode of application, the volume applied, and the proximity of bystanders to the site of application, but in general is expected to be low.

Indirect exposure to P. polymyxa ATCC 842 and 13540-4 in the environment subsequent to its use in water and wastewater treatment, water restoration of aquacultures and garden ponds, degreasing of sewer lines, lawn maintenance, or disposal of waste from its use in the production of enzymes is also likely to occur in the vicinity of application or disposal sites, but is expected to be no greater than direct exposure from the use of the organism in consumer products.

In the event that the organisms enter municipal drinking water treatment systems through release from potential uses, the water treatment process, which includes coagulation, flocculation, ozonation, filtration and chlorination, is expected to effectively eliminate these micro-organisms from drinking water.

Growth in the market for “greener” microbial-based products may increase human exposure to the DSL P. polymyxa strains, which have potential applications in these products. In the event that the potential consumer, commercial or industrial uses of P. polymyxa ATCC 842, ATCC 55407 and 13540-4 are realized, the human exposure scenarios described above can be expected, and could include direct and possibly repeated exposure to concentrated preparations of P. polymyxa ATCC 842, ATCC 55407 or 13540-4.

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3. Risk Characterization

In this assessment, risk is characterized according to a paradigm embedded in section 64 of CEPA 1999 that a hazard and exposure to that hazard are both required for there to be a risk. The risk assessment conclusion is based on the hazard, and on what is known about exposure from current uses.

Hazard has been estimated for P. polymyxa ATCC 842, ATCC 55407 and 13540-4 to be low for the environment and low for human health. Environmental and human exposure to P. polymyxa ATCC 55407 from its deliberate use in industrial processes or consumer or commercial products in Canada is not currently expected (low exposure), so the risk associated with current uses is estimated to be low for both the environment and human health. Human and environmental exposure to P. polymyxa strains ATCC 842 and 13540-4 is estimated to be medium because imported products containing these strains were reported in the s.71 survey, but, based on the low estimation of hazard, the risk associated from these two strains from current levels of exposure is estimated to be low.

The determination of risk from current uses is followed by consideration of the estimated hazard in relation to foreseeable future exposures (from new uses).

P. polymyxa ATCC 842, ATCC 55407 and 13540-4 have useful properties that make them of interest for use in additional industrial processes or consumer or commercial products. In the event that these potential consumer, commercial or industrial uses of P. polymyxa ATCC 842, ATCC 55407 and 13540-4 are realized, the level of environmental and human exposure to these strains could increase. Nevertheless, the risk from foreseeable potential uses of P. polymyxa ATCC 842, ATCC 55407 and 13540-4 remains low, given that there is no evidence of effects on human health or adverse ecological effects at the population level for environmental species, in spite of widespread distribution of P. polymyxa in the environment and the history of industrial, environmental and commercial uses of strains ATCC 842, ATCC 55407 and 13540-4.

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4. Conclusion

Based on the information presented in the Screening Assessment, it is concluded that P. polymyxa strains ATCC 842, ATCC 55407 and 13540-4 are not entering the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that:

Therefore, it is concluded that these substances do not meet the criteria as set out in section 64 of CEPA 1999.

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5. References

Acosta, M.P., Valdman, E., Leite, S., Battaglini, F., and Ruzal, S. (2005). Biosorption of copper by Paenibacillus polymyxa cells and their exopolysaccharide. World J. Microb. Biot. 21, 1157-1163.

Akhtar, M., and Panwar, J. (2013). Efficacy of root-associated fungi and PGPR on the growth of Pisum sativum (cv. Arkil) and reproduction of the root-knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita. J. Basic Microbiol. 53, 318-326.

Alvarez, V.M., Von Der Weid, I., Seldin, L., and Santos, A.L.S. (2006). Influence of growth conditions on the production of extracellular proteolytic enzymes in Paenibacillus peoriae NRRL BD-62 and Paenibacillus polymyxa SCE2. Lett. Appl. Microbiol. 43, 625-630.

Anikpeh, Y.F., Keller, P., Bloemberg, G., Grünenfelder, J., and Zinkernagel, A. (2010). New disease: Spacecraft bacterium, Paenibacillus pasadenensis, causing wound infection in humans. BMJ Case Rep. 2010 Dec 29.

Ash, C., Farrow, J.A.E., Wallbanks, S., and Collins, M.D. (1991). Phylogenetic heterogeneity of the genus Bacillus revealed by comparative analysis of small-subunit-ribosomal RNA sequences. Lett. Appl. Microbiol. 13, 202-206.

Ash, C., Priest, F.G., and Collins, M.D. (1993). Molecular identification of rRNA group 3 bacilli (Ash, Farrow, Wallbanks and Collins) using a PCR probe test. Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek 64, 253-260.

Ash, C., Priest, F., and Collins, M. (1994). Paenibacillus gen. nov. and Paenibacillus polymyxa comb. nov. In validation of the publication of new names and new combinations previously effectively published outside the IJSB, list no. 51. Int. J. Syst. Bacteriol. 44, 852.

ATCC. (2012). American Type Culture Collections. General Information for Paenibacillus polymyxa ATCC 55407. (viewed December 2013).

BCCM. (2013). Belgium Co-ordinated Collections of Micro-organisms. Strain Details for Paenibacillus polymyxa LMG 13294.
Run+Query (viewed April 2014).

Beatty, P.H., and Jensen, S.E. (2002). Paenibacillus polymyxa produces fusaricidin-type antifungal antibiotics active against Leptosphaeria maculans, the causative agent of blackleg disease of canola. Can. J. Microbiol. 48, 159-169.

Bert, F., Ouahes, O., and Lambert-Zechovsky, N. (1995). Brain abscess due to Bacillus macerans following a penetrating periorbital injury. J. Clin. Microbiol. 33, 1950-1953.

Bezzate, S., Aymerich, S., Chambert, R., Czarnes, S., Berge, O., and Heulin, T. (2000). Disruption of the Paenibacillus polymyxa levansucrase gene impairs its ability to aggregate soil in the wheat rhizosphere. Environ. Microbiol. 2, 333-342.

Blibech, I. (2012). Etude de la lutte biologique intégrée contre la teigne de l’olivier Prays oleae BERN. (Lepidoptera, Hyponomeutidae): Emploi des parasitoïdes entomophages et des bactéries entomopathogènes et perspectives de protection biologique de l’olivier en Tunisie, Thèse de Doctorat, Faculté des Sciences de Sfax. 215 pages.

Blibech, I., Ksantini, M., Chaieb, I., Jlassi, B., Rhouma, A., Jaoua, S., and Aifa, S. (2012). Isolation of entomopathogenic Bacillus from a biodynamic olive farm and their pathogenicity to lepidopteran and coleopteran insect pests. Crop. Prot. 31, 72-77.

Caruso, F., Zuck, M., and Bessette, A. (1984). Bacterial seedling blight of tomato caused by Bacillus polymyxa [isolation and identification]. Plant. Dis. 68, 617-620.

Chan, Q.W.T., Cornman, R.S., Birol, I., Liao, N.Y., Chan, S.K., Docking, T.R., Jackman, S.D., Taylor, G.A., Jones, S.J.M., de Graaf, D.C., Evans, J.D., and Foster, L.J. (2011). Updated genome assembly and annotation of Paenibacillus larvae, the agent of American foulbrood disease of honey bees. BMC Genomics 12, 450.

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6. Appendix: Phylogeny of the genus Paenibacillus

Figure 6-1: Extended phylogenetic tree of the genus Paenibacillus inferred from 16S rRNA gene sequence comparison - 1320 nt fragment (taken from Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol. 58, 682-687, with permission)

Figure 6-1 (See the long description below)

Long description of Figure 6-1

The figure is an extended phylogenetic tree of the genus Paenibacillus inferred from 16S rRNA gene sequence comparisons using a 1320 nucleotide fragment. The tree was adapted from Roux et al., 2008. In the tree, Paenibacillus polymyxa, the subject of this assessment clusters distantly from Paenibacillus species that have been implicated in adverse effects in aquatic or terrestrial plants and animals, and in humans.


Footnote 1

A determination of whether one or more criteria of section 64 of CEPA 1999 are met is based upon an assessment of potential risks to the environment and/or to human health associated with exposure in the general environment. For humans, this includes, but is not limited to, exposure from air, water and the use of products containing the substances. A conclusion under CEPA 1999, on P. polymyxa ATCC 842, ATCC 55407 and 13540-4, is not may not be relevant to, nor does it preclude, an assessment against the hazard criteria specified in the Controlled Products Regulations or the Hazardous Products Regulations, which is part of the regulatory framework for the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) that are specified in the Controlled Products Regulations for products intended for workplace use.

Return to footnote[1]referrer

Footnote 2

A determination of whether one or more criteria of section 64 of CEPA 1999 are met is based upon an assessment of potential risks to the environment and/or human health associated with exposure in the general environment. For humans, this includes, but is not limited to, exposure from air, water and the use of products containing the substances. A conclusion under CEPA 1999, on P. polymyxa ATCC 842, ATCC 55407 and 13540-4, is not relevant to, nor does it preclude, an assessment against the hazard criteria for WHMIS that are specified in the Controlled Products Regulations or the Hazardous Products Regulations for products intended for workplace use.

Return to footnote[2]referrer

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