J Clin Pathol 55:286-288
  • Original article

An evaluation of the performance of XLD, DCA, MLCB, and ABC agars as direct plating media for the isolation of Salmonella enterica from faeces

  1. K J Nye1,
  2. D Fallon1,
  3. D Frodsham1,
  4. B Gee1,
  5. C Graham2,
  6. S Howe1,
  7. S Messer1,
  8. T Turner1,
  9. R E Warren1
  1. 1Public Health Laboratory Service (Midlands), Group Headquarters, The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, Mytton Oak Road, Shrewsbury, SY3 8XQ, UK
  2. 2PHLS Statistics Unit, 61 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5EQ, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr K J Nye, Birmingham Public Health Laboratory, Birmingham Heartlands and Solihull NHS Trust (Teaching), Bordesley Green East, Birmingham B9 5SS, UK;
  • Accepted 29 October 2001


Aims: To compare the performance of four media, singly and in combination, as direct plating media for the isolation of Salmonella enterica from human faeces.

Methods: Two thousand four hundred and nine routine, faecal samples received by four laboratories were inoculated on to xylose lysine desoxycholate (XLD), desoxycholate citrate (DCA), mannitol lysine crystal violet brilliant green (MLCB), and α-β chromogenic (ABC) agars using standardised protocols, reagents, and data collection. Isolates of presumptive salmonellae were identified using standard laboratory techniques and the results were analysed statistically.

Results: Direct plating recovered 46 of the 60 possible isolates of Salmonella spp recovered via enrichment broth. No isolates were recovered from direct plating that were not recovered via selenite enrichment. MLCB gave the highest isolation rate individually (84.8%) and amounts of competing flora (CF) did not affect the recognition of colonies. ABC proved highly specific, but insensitive, and isolation rates were adversely affected by any amount of CF. Isolation rates from XLD and DCA were only affected when the CF load was heavy. DCA was least specific, with only 9.01% of picks positive and greatest number of confirmatory tests. XLD and MLCB, in combination, gave the highest isolation rate.

Conclusions: Where the earlier results of direct plating may be advantageous, XLD and MLCB provide the optimal combination. For non-typhi salmonellae, MLCB is the best, single direct plating medium. For routine diagnostic work, XLD is most effective.


  • The authors present this study on behalf of the PHLS (Midlands) Bacterial Methods Evaluation Group.