Fluorigenic substrates prepared from 4-methylumbelliferone provide a simple, convenient method for detecting and assaying group-specific hydrolase activity in small quantities of whole mycobacteria. Physico-chemical properties of the enzymes such as pH dependence and heat stability may also be studied. A technique is described for studying glycosidase, hexosaminidase, acid phosphatase, and acyl esterase activity in seven mycobacterial species. Such techniques will be a useful aid to the taxonomy, identification, and quantification of mycobacteria, especially slowly growing strains in which biochemical properties are very difficult to detect by other techniques.
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