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Starch hydrolysis test

This test is used to identify bacteria that can hydrolyze starch (amylose and amylopectin) using the enzymes a-amylase and oligo-1,6-glucosidase. Often used to differentiate species from the genera Clostridium and Bacillus. Because of the large size of amylose and amylopectin molecules, these organisms can not pass through the bacterial cell wall. In order to use these starches as a carbon source, bacteria must secrete a-amylase and oligo-1,6-glucosidase into the extracellular space. These enzymes break the starch molecules into smaller glucose subunits which can then enter directly into the glycolytic pathway. In order to interpret the results of the starch hydrolysis test, iodine must be added to the agar. The iodine reacts with the starch to form a dark brown color. Thus, hydrolysis of the starch will create a clear zone around the bacterial growth. Bacillus subtilis is positive for starch hydrolysis (pictured below on the left). The organism shown on the right is negative for starch hydrolysis.

starch hydrolysis results starch hydrolysis negative results
Positive for starch hydrolysis Negative for starch hydrolysis

 

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