Bacterial identification keys ...

Mark Segal segal.mark at
Tue Nov 18 15:18:56 EST 1997

Martin Harvey wrote:
> In article <34673ED1.5B6DB672 at>, Lesley
> Robertson <l.a.robertson at> writes
> >Go for Bergey's Determinative
> >Manual - editors Holt, Krieg, Sneath, Staley & Williams. ISBN
> >0-683-00603-7.
> I'm afraid I have to agree with Lesley here....Bergey's still the best!
> Bit of a shame though....Just imagine how useful a computer catalogue
> would be for picking out the right bugs on a search engine :-)
> During my reseach, I had to resort to pieces of card with holes punched
> in them - oops, I'm showing my age again!
> Martin

A little bit of help is on the way, though not necessarily for the
purpose expressed by the original poster.  This summer, ATCC and several
partners held a small international workshop on identification of
Pseudomonas (sensu stricto) and from that they are going to produce a
guide to the various methods that are applicable, with commentary on the
advantages and disadvantages of each. They are preparing to put the
summary and pertinent supporting material on line at a workshop webpage.
It may be early next year before its publically available. I'll post a
notice when its ready.

The comment by Douglas Rice, about not having one-size-fits-all for
bacterial identification is true enough.  Phenotypic kit type systems
may work well enough for some clinical isolates, but may have limited
utility at best for many environmental isolates of Ps.  You really need
to understand the basis for any identification system before jumping in
and using it.
Mark Segal; U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
401 M St. S.W.; Washington, DC 20460
Ph.:  (202) 260-3389; Email : segal.mark at

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