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Res Microbiol. 1998 Jul-Aug;149(7):487-95.

Inactivation of mycobacteriophage D29 using ferrous ammonium sulphate as a tool for the detection of viable Mycobacterium smegmatis and M. tuberculosis.

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Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.


There is still an urgent requirement for more sensitive, cost-effective methods for detection and susceptibility testing of mycobacteria in clinical samples. We have been investigating a simple bacteriophage-based system which could be used for both purposes. As this depends upon the detection of phages which have successfully infected cells, a key step is the efficient removal or inactivation of phages remaining free in the culture medium. We demonstrate here the use of ferrous ammonium sulphate as an effective agent for the inactivation of mycobacteriophage D29 without impairing phage replication in previously infected host bacteria. Using this property, we report the detection of viable Mycobacterium smegmatis, M. bovis BCG and M. tuberculosis using simple low-cost technology. The method is highly sensitive, since it is able to detect 10 colony-forming units of M. smegmatis. It is also rapid, with the detection of M. tuberculosis in sputum specimens within 48 h.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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