The acid end-products of 185 isolates from the family Bacteroidaceae were separated and analysed by gas-liquid chromatography on broth cultures. Different media were evaluated and definitive studies were performed in a fully supplemented complex medium. The limitations of this approach to the identification of a wide range of strains from various clinical sources were determined and the results were compared with those of a series of morphological, biochemical, tolerance and antibiotic-resistance tests.

All test strains were identified to generic level by simple microscopic and colonial observations and GLC analysis; additional tests were required to allow species or subspecies identification of most strains. Population differences were detected between some species or subspecies isolated from different clinical sites by quantitative analyses of fatty acids, but individual strains could not always be separated because of overlapping ranges of distribution of acids that were common products of more than one species or subspecies. Small differences in minor products between different species or subspecies were variable and are not considered adequate for discrimination at these taxo-nomic levels without support from other observations.

The potential application of the GLC technique to the rapid and accurate identification of these organisms in hospital laboratories is considered.


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