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J Microbiol Methods. 2009 Nov;79(2):139-55. doi: 10.1016/j.mimet.2009.08.001. Epub 2009 Aug 11.

Enzymatic substrates in microbiology.

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Research & Development Microbiology, bioMérieux, 3 route de Port Michaud, La Balme-les-Grottes, France.


Enzymatic substrates are powerful tools in biochemistry. They are widely used in microbiology to study metabolic pathways, to monitor metabolism and to detect, enumerate and identify microorganisms. Synthetic enzymatic substrates have been customized for various microbial assays, to detect an expanding range of both new enzymatic activities and target microorganisms. Recent developments in synthetic enzymatic substrates with new spectral, chemical and biochemical properties allow improved detection, enumeration and identification of food-borne microorganisms, clinical pathogens and multi-resistant bacteria in various sample types. In the past 20 years, the range of synthetic enzymatic substrates used in microbiology has been markedly extended supporting the development of new multi-test systems (e.g., Microscan, Vitek 2, Phoenix) and chromogenic culture media. The use of such substrates enables an improvement in time to detection and specificity over conventional tests that employ natural substrates. In the era of intense developments in molecular biology, phenotypic tests involving enzymatic substrates remain useful to analyse both simple and complex samples. Such tests are applicable to diagnostic and research laboratories all over the world.

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