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Sulfur, Indole, Motility (SIM) Media

This is a differential medium. It tests the ability of an organism to do several things: reduce sulfur, produce indole and swim through the agar (be motile). SIM is commonly used to differentiate members of Enterobacteriaceae.

Sulfur can be reduced to H2S (hydrogen sulfide) either by catabolism of the amino acid cysteine by the enzyme cysteine desulfurase or by reduction of thiosulfate in anaerobic respiration. If hydrogen sulfide is produced, a black color forms in the medium. Proteus mirabilis is positive for H2S production. The organism pictured on the far left is positive for hydrogen sulfide production.

Bacteria that have the enzyme tryptophanase, can convert the amino acid, tryptophane to indole. Indole reacts with added Kovac’s reagent to form rosindole dye which is red in color (indole +). Escherichia coli is indole positive. The organism pictured second from left is E. coli and is indole positive.

SIM tubes are inoculated with a single stab to the bottom of the tube. If an organism is motile than the growth will radiate from the stab mark and make the entire tube appear turbid. Pseudomonas aeruginosa and the strain of Proteus mirabilis that we work with are motile.

SIM tube results

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