FOR ALMOST a century, experimental evidence concerning the importance of carbon dioxide for bacterial growth has been accumulating (Winogradsky, 1890; Rockwell, 1923; Rockwell and Highberger, 1927; Valley and Rettger, 1927; Valley, 1928; Gladstone, Fildes and Richardson, 1935; Wimpenny, 1969). The attention of early workers was directed primarily at aerobes such as (Chapin, 1918), (Cohen and Fleming, 1918), (Smith, 1924; Wilson, 1931) and (Wherry and Ervin, 1918; Davies, 1940). With the recent resurgence of interest in anaerobic bacteriology, the essential or stimulatory effect of CO on the growth of obligate anaerobes has become widely recognised. Current anaerobic culture techniques commonly employ 5-10% CO in the incubation atmosphere to achieve optimal growth (Watt, 1973; Stalons, Thornsberry and Dowell, 1974; Willis, 1977). Nevertheless, there is a lack of precise information relating to the quantitative CO requirements of many clinically important anaerobic bacteria. Preliminary experiments in this laboratory revealed a wide variation in the CO requirements of different species of anaerobic bacteria; the observation that relatively low concentrations of CO were adequate for satisfactory growth of certain anaerobes was of particular interest. The present study reports the effect of different concentrations of CO on the growth of a range of anaerobic bacteria isolated from clinical sources.


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