As a result of their wide-ranging physiological characteristics and the myriad of enzymes, antibiotics and other metabolites they elaborate, Bacillus species are important in a host of medical, agricultural, pharmaceutical or other industrial applications and processes. Among the better known antibiotics are bacitracin from B. licheniformis or B. subtilis, polymyxin from B. polymyxa and gramicidin from B. brevis. Several are important in antibiotic assays (B. pumilus, B. cereus, B. stearothermophilus) or other health-related assays, e.g. folic acid (B. coagulans), aflatoxin (B. megaterium) and hexachlo-rophene (B. subtilis). Certain Bacillus species are utilized for degradation of pollutants and waste materials. One strain of B. cereus is the active ingredient of an antidiarrheal formulation prescribed in certain countries of Europe. The spores of the thermophilic B. stearothermophilus are particularly well suited to checking heat sterilization procedures for laboratory, surgical, pharmaceutical and food preservation processes, and B. subtilis var globigii (NCTC 10073), having a high resistance to heat, radiation and chemical disinfectants, is used for validating alternative sterilization and fumigation procedures. Contrariwise, the resistance of spores to heat, radiation, disinfectants and desiccation results in Bacillus species being troublesome contaminants in pharmaceutical products, foods, surgical theatres and dressings, etc. B. thuringiensis, B. popilliae, B. sphaericus, B. larvae and B. lentimorbus are insect pathogens. The first three are utilized in commerical insecticides for controlling crop-destroying and disease-carrying insects; B. thuringiensis has the widest use in this context, providing control of an extensive range of pests on many different crop types.

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