Bacterial identification in the diagnostic laboratory: How much is enough?

Kootallur, B. N.; Thangavelu, C. P.; Mani, M.
October 2011
Indian Journal of Medical Microbiology;Oct2011, Vol. 29 Issue 4, p336
Academic Journal
The major impetus for bacterial identification came after the advent of solid culture media. Morphological appearance of bacterial colonies was often sufficient for their identification in the laboratory. Even in modern times, preliminary identification of most cultivable bacteria is based on such morphological characters. Advances have been made media for the presumptive identification of common organisms encountered in clinical samples. Phenotypic characterisation of bacteria with, physiological tests with a battery of biochemical tests differentiate related bacterial genera as well as confirm their identity. Each laboratory can select its own method(s) of identification, provided they are based on scientific / epidemiological evidence; clinical laboratory and standards institute (CLSI) is a widely accepted organization and laboratories in many parts of the world follow its recommendations for bacterial identification. Some of the latest advances in identification include Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization -- Time of Flight Mass Spectroscopy (MALDI-TOF) is a state of art facility used for fast and reliable species-specific identification of bacteria including Mycobacteria and fungi including yeasts. However the single most important factor that decides the method of bacterial identification in any laboratory is the cost involved. In the final analysis, selection of tests for bacterial identification should be based on their standardization with proper scientific basis. Considering the cost and lack of easy availability of commercial kits, we have put forward a simplified and rapid method of identification for most commonly encountered bacterial pathogens causing human infection in India.


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