Applied routinely to 1081 recently isolated cultures, the phenol-induced slide-agglutination test (standard procedure) with flagellar antiserum correctly identified 98-9% of strains of O type-I and NAG serotypes; 10% of cultures were unstable in phenol-saline. The incidence of instability and other types of defect was higher (7-3%) in older stock cultures. The majority of such strains were successfully tested by one of the three modified procedures. No cross-reactions were observed in 47 cultures of other species including the halophilic vibrios. Only one out of the 1205 cultures of tested by all procedures reacted negatively; this strain was found to lack functional flagella. These results establish the significance of flagellar specificity as a classificatory determinant in and the fidelity and utility of the phenol test in routine bacteriology.


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