How to isolate, identify and determine antimicrobial susceptibility of anaerobic bacteria in routine laboratories

ESCMID Study Group of Anaerobic Infections

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

15 Citations (Scopus)


Background: There has been increased interest in the study of anaerobic bacteria that cause human infection during the past decade. Many new genera and species have been described using 16S rRNA gene sequencing of clinical isolates obtained from different infection sites with commercially available special culture media to support the growth of anaerobes. Several systems, such as anaerobic pouches, boxes, jars and chambers provide suitable anaerobic culture conditions to isolate even strict anaerobic bacteria successfully from clinical specimens. Beside the classical, time-consuming identification methods and automated biochemical tests, the use of matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry has revolutionized identification of even unusual and slow-growing anaerobes directly from culture plates, providing the possibility of providing timely information about anaerobic infections. Aims: The aim of this review article is to present methods for routine laboratories, which carry out anaerobic diagnostics on different levels. Sources: Relevant data from the literature mostly published during the last 7 years are encompassed and discussed. Content: The review involves topics on the anaerobes that are members of the commensal microbiota and their role causing infection, the key requirements for collection and transport of specimens, processing of specimens in the laboratory, incubation techniques, identification and antimicrobial susceptibility testing of anaerobic bacteria. Advantages, drawbacks and specific benefits of the methods are highlighted. Implications: The present review aims to update and improve anaerobic microbiology in laboratories with optimal conditions as well as encourage its routine implementation in laboratories with restricted resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1139-1148
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Microbiology and Infection
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


  • Anaerobic bacteria
  • Antimicrobial susceptibility determination
  • Identification
  • Isolation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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