, Volume 169, Issue 2, pp 67-74

Esculin hydrolysis by gram positive bacteria

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A number of bacteria hydrolyze esculin enzymatically to esculetin. This characteristic is used by taxonomists and clinical microbiologists in the differentiation and identification of bacteria, especially to distinguish Lancefield group D streptococci from non-group D organisms andListeria monocytogenes from morphologically similarErysipelothrix rhusipoathiae and diphtheroids. Conventional methods used for esculin hydrolysis require 4–48 h for completion. We developed and evaluated a medium which gives positive results more rapidly. The 2,330 isolates used in this study consisted of 1,680 esculin positive and 650 esculin negative organisms. The sensitivity and specificity of this method were compared with the PathoTec esculin hydrolysis strip and the procedure of Vaughn and Levine (VL). Of the 1,680 esculin positive organisms, 97% gave positive reactions within 30 minutes with the rapid test whereas PathoTec required 3–4 h incubation for the same number of organisms to yield a positive reaction.

This work was presented in part at the 79th Annual Meeting of American Society for Microbiology, 4–8 May, 1979, Los Angeles, CA.