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Beta-galactosidase and lactose fermentation in the identification of enterobacteria including salmonellae
  1. S. P. Lapage,
  2. M. S. Jayaraman1
  1. Salmonella Reference Laboratory, Central Public Health Laboratory, Colindale


    One hundred and fourteen strains of non-lactose fermenters and 127 lactose fermenters on MacConkey's agar have been compared in the 5% and 1% lactose tests and in β-galactosidase production, using ortho-nitro-phenyl-β-D-galactopyranoside (O.N.P.G.) as a test substance. The superiority of the O.N.P.G. test in the number of positive results and its rapidity is shown. In general, late or non-lactose fermenting strains of genera, usually lactose-positive, yield a rapidly positive O.N.P.G. reaction. Forty-one wild strains of Salmonella, Proteus, Providencia, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa were found negative in all three tests.

    Of 1,075 stock strains of Salmonella examined in the O.N.P.G. test, all were negative except nine; four of these were lactose-positive strains. For practical purposes, Salmonella strains in Great Britain may be regarded as O.N.P.G. negative.

    Among 100 stock strains of Arizona there was considerable variation of behaviour in the O.N.P.G. test and in the 5% and 1% lactose tests. Most strains of Arizona can be considered to yield a positive O.N.P.G. test but a minority give a negative result.

    The test is recommended for routine use in the differentiation of Salmonella from other enterobacteria and for use in bacterial identification.

    The 5% lactose fermentation test in parallel is suggested when the O.N.P.G. test is used for isolating routine pathogens, because organisms such as Shigella sonnei, Shigella dysenteriae 1, and Pasteurella pseudotuberculosis are O.N.P.G. positive.

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    • 1 Now at the Institute of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, Ranipet, Madras State. This work was made possible by a Nuffield Foundation Dominion travelling fellowship in natural science, part of which was spent at the Salmonella Reference Laboratory, Central Public Health Laboratory, Colindale.