The production of neuraminidase (EC by a range of clostridial species was investigated with techniques previously developed to distinguish neuraminidase-negative and neuraminidase-positive strains of Large amounts of extracellular neuraminidase were produced by representative strains of and C. in the test media. Under similar conditions, two strains each of and were found to produce small amounts of the enzyme. All of 12 strains of C. were clearly shown to produce neuraminidase, often in large amounts, but none of five strains of the closely related but non-pathogenic had demonstrable neuraminidase activity. No neuraminidase was produced by types A-D (10 strains), (6), types A, B, C or E (4), (4), (4) or by single strains of five other clostridial species.

Clostridial neuraminidase was predominantly extracellular and was not calcium-dependent. The investigation took account of variations in growth and enzyme production in different media. It was necessary to prolong the neuraminidase-assay reaction time to 24 h and to monitor for the presence of NAN-aldolase (EC to define true negatives. It is suggested that neuraminidase production may be of value in taxonomic studies and that its production by several pathogenic species of clostridia may be of interest in studies of pathogenicity and virulence.


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