The use of modern research approaches of genetics, biochemistry and molecular biology has led to progress in bacterial taxonomy. Systematic study of the aerobic spore-forming bacteria has resulted in the realignment of the genus Bacillus into several new genera. In the meantime, the identification process has become more difficult for the non-specialist in Bacillus taxonomy. This paper presents a key for the simplified phenotypic identification of the mesophilic, aerobic, spore-forming bacteria belonging to the genera Bacillus, Paenibacillus, Brevibacillus, Aneurinibacillus, Geobacillus and Virgibacillus. A total of 81 species were included and 115 morphological and physiological tests were analysed for their discriminative efficiency. This key is practical for rough but quick identification of aerobic spore-forming bacteria isolated from nature. Such preliminary identification will be helpful for the selection of reference strains and methods for more precise identification using the newest techniques. The reliability of the proposed identification key was tested on 100 cultures from the Ukrainian Collection of Microorganisms. The developed identification key is represented in interactive mode on a website (http://www/imv.kiev.ua/key/).


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