Yersinia Diagnostic

By: Ivo Siegrist, Analytix Volume 7 Article 5

Detection, identification, differentiation and cultivation of Yersinia species.

Ivo Siegrist, Product Manager Microbiology

Yersinia are rod-shaped, Gram-negative facultative anaerobic bacteria. They exhibit fermentative metabolism and are oxidasenegative, mannitol-positive. A psychrophilic organism, Yersinia survives and proliferates at low temperatures of 0– 4°C, for example on food products in a refrigerator. Some Yersinia species are also relatively heat resistant. Pigs, rodents, rabbits, sheep, cattle, horses, dogs, and cats are the natural sources of Yersinia. Currently, Y. enterocolitica is responsible for most cases of human illness caused by Yersinia.

Other clinical important species of this genus are Y. pseudotuberculosis and Y. pestis, the infectious agent of bubonic plague. Most infections are acquired from contaminated food, like raw or undercooked pork products, sea food, vegetables, unpasteurized milk or untreated water. However, infections also occur from contact with infected animals, faeces or transmission by fleas.

Sigma-Aldrich offers a wide range of selective and non-selective media (Table 1) and diagnostic tests (Table 2) for growth and identification of Yersinia.

Table 1 Media for Yersinia

Cat. No. Nonselective Broths
53286 Brain Heart Broth
40893 Peptone Water, phosphate-buffered, Vegitone
77187 Peptone Water, phosphate-buffered


Cat. No. Selective Enrichment Broths
17156 ITC Broth (Base)
69965 Mossel Broth
17192 Peptone Sorbitol Bile Broth


Cat. No. Basal Media for Carbohydrates Utilization
A0715 Andrade Peptone Water
28943 Andrade Peptone Water, Vegitone


Cat. No. Medium for Autoagglutination
39484 Methyl Red Voges Proskauer Broth


Cat. No. Nonselective Agars for Differentiation & Confirmation
27048 Christensen‘s Urea Agar
60787 Kligler Agar
75315 OF Test Nutrient Agar
O5386 Ornithine Decarboxylase Broth


Cat. No. Selective Agars for Detection and Isolation
95760 Yersinia Selective Agar (CIN Agar)


Cat. No. Selective Agars with Differential System for Differentiation, Detection and Isolation
70135 DCLS Agar
90035 DCLS Agar No. 2
17213 Violet Red Bile Glucose Agar without Lactose
53605 Violet Red Bile Glucose Agar without Lactose, Vegitone
95273 VRB MUG Agar


Scientific classification of Yersinia:

Kingdom: Bacteria Order: Enterobacteriales
Phylum: Proteobacteria Family: Enterobacteriaceae
Class: Gamma Proteobacteria Genus: Yersinia



Y. enterocolitica: catalase-positive, most strains are ornithine-positive, motile at 22–26°C, urea-positive, sorbitol- and cellobio se-positive, most strains are sucrose-positive
Y. pseudotuberculosis: motile at 22–26°C, urea-positive, rhamnose-positive, esculin-positive
Y. pestis: produces two antiphagocytic components (antiphagocytic slime), non-motile at 22–26°C, esculin-positive, responsible organism for the bubonic plague

Table 2 Test for identification and differentiation of Yersinia

Cat. No. Diagnostic Tests for Yersinia
80507 Bile Esculin Disks
88597 Catalase Test
56481 Cellobiose Disks
94438 Mannitol Disks
08714 Methyl Red Solution
07345 Oxidase Reagent acc. Gaby-Hadley A
07817 Oxidase Reagent acc. Gaby-Hadley B
18502 Oxidase Reagent acc. Gordon-McLeod
40560 Oxidase Strips
70439 Oxidase Test
93999 Rhamnose Disks
92971 Salicin Disks
93998 Sorbitol Disks
94309 Sucrose Disks


More details about the media, tests can be found on our website:

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  1. Sherris Medical Microbiology, 4th ed., K.J. Ryan, C.G. Ray, eds., McGraw Hill: New York, NY, 2004; 368–370.
  2. Collins, F.M. Pasteurella, Yersinia, and Francisella. In Barron‘s Medical Microbiology, 4th ed., S. Barron, et al., eds., University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston: Galveston, TX, 1996; Chapter 29.


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