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Use of bile-esculin agar for rapid differentiation of Enterobacteriaceae.

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  • Research Article


Bile-esculin agar has been used for several years for the presumptive identification of group D streptococci. All members of the Enterobacteriaceae family will also grow on this medium, but only certain ones can hydrolyze esculin to 6,7-dihydroxycoumarin, which reacts with iron to produce a characteristic blackening of the medium. One thousand and six cultures from clinical specimens representing 20 genera were isolated and identified. Heavy inocula from fresh pure culture isolates on heart infusion agar were placed on bile-esculin agar slants and incubated at 35 C. The slants were examined at 4 h and again at 18 h for esculin hydrolysis. Shigella, Salmonella, Arizona, Proteus mirabilis, Proteus morganii, Providencia alcalifaciens, and Providencia stuartii all produced negative results. Klebsiella pneumoniae, Enterobacter aerogenes, Serratia marcescens, and Serratia rubidaea produced a positive reaction in 4 h. The other remaining eight genera exhibited varying results. The use of this medium in conjunction with triple sugar iron-lysine iron agar has been of great value in differentiating the Klebsiella-Enterobacter-Serratia group from other Enterobacteriaceae.

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