E. coli smell

George W. Chang changlab at nature.berkeley.edu
Thu Jul 14 17:04:19 EST 1994


In article <Pine.3.07.9407140946.B19882-9100000 at bach>,
ayakawa at SEATTLEU.EDU ("Gregg Y. Ayakawa") wrote:

>  
>  
> On 13 Jul 1994, Brent Pollock wrote:
>  
> > Does anyone know what compund (or combination of compounds) gives E. coli
> > it's characteristic smell?
>  
> If I'm not mistaken, indole, produced from the breakdown of tryptophan, is
> at least partially responsible.
>  
> Gregg
............................................................................

Brent and Gregg,
          We've done a lot of work on indole production in all kinds of
water and sewage isolates of E.coli, and there doesn't seem to be any
clear-cut relationship between indole levels and smell.  Of course we may
have deadened our own noses to indole by now.
          Relatives of E.coli, the Klebsiellas and Enterobacters, often
have a kind of fruity smell.  I've always assumed that it had something to
do with the butanediol pathway...diacetyl, acetoin, etc.   Does anyone
know?

George



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