Laboratory strains of and were adapted to grow in an anaerobic environment. Concomitant with the transition to anaerobic growth was loss of acid-fastness, loss or modification of colonial pigmentation, and loss of ability to grow on a malachite green-containing medium. The mycobacteria grown anaerobically produced acid from a greater range of carbohydrates than aerobically grown cultures, lost iron-uptake activity, and showed a reduction of urease, catalase and nitratase activity. Back adaption of mycobacteria from an anaerobic to an aerobic environment resulted in the acquisition of acid-fastness, pigmentation, and other characteristics used in the taxonomy of mycobacteria. These results suggest that mycobacterial cultures, if grown in an anaerobic environment, may be erroneously identified in clinical laboratories.


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