Journal of clinical microbiology

Analysis of mycolic acid cleavage products and cellular fatty acids of Mycobacterium species by capillary gas chromatography.

PMID 3084554


After growth and experimental conditions were established, the mycolic acid cleavage products, constituent fatty acids, and alcohols of representative strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, M. smegmatis, M. fortuitum complex, M. kansasii, M. gordonae, and M. avium complex were determined by capillary gas chromatography. Reproducible cleavage of mycolic acid methyl esters to tetracosanoic (24:0) or hexacosanoic (26:0) acid methyl esters was achieved by heating the sample in a high-temperature muffle furnace. The major constituent fatty acids in all species were hexadecanoic (16:0) and octadecenoic (18:1 omega 9-c, oleic) acids. With the exception of M. gordonae, 10-methyloctadecanoic acid was found in all species; moreover, M. gordonae was the only species tested which contained 2-methyltetradecanoic acid. M. kansasii was characterized by the presence of 2,4-dimethyltetradecanoic acid, M. avium complex by 2-eicosanol, and M. tuberculosis by 26:0 mycolic acid cleavage product. The mycolic acid cleavage product in the other five species tested was 24:0. Although a limited number of strains and species were tested, preliminary results indicate that this gas chromatographic method can be used to characterize mycobacterial cultures by their mycolic acid cleavage products and constituent fatty acid and alcohol content.

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