Identification and antimicrobial susceptibility testing of anaerobic bacteria: Rubik’s cube of clinical microbiology?

Márió Gajdács, Gabriella Spengler, Edit Urbán

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

37 Citations (Scopus)


Anaerobic bacteria have pivotal roles in the microbiota of humans and they are significant infectious agents involved in many pathological processes, both in immunocompetent and immunocompromised individuals. Their isolation, cultivation and correct identification differs significantly from the workup of aerobic species, although the use of new technologies (e.g., matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry, whole genome sequencing) changed anaerobic diagnostics dramatically. In the past, antimicrobial susceptibility of these microorganisms showed predictable patterns and empirical therapy could be safely administered but recently a steady and clear increase in the resistance for several important drugs (β-lactams, clindamycin) has been observed worldwide. For this reason, antimicrobial susceptibility testing of anaerobic isolates for surveillance purposes or otherwise is of paramount importance but the availability of these testing methods is usually limited. In this present review, our aim was to give an overview of the methods currently available for the identification (using phenotypic characteristics, biochemical testing, gas-liquid chromatography, MALDI-TOF MS and WGS) and antimicrobial susceptibility testing (agar dilution, broth microdilution, disk diffusion, gradient tests, automated systems, phenotypic and molecular resistance detection techniques) of anaerobes, when should these methods be used and what are the recent developments in resistance patterns of anaerobic bacteria.

Original languageEnglish
Article number25
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • Anaerobic bacteria
  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Bacteroides fragilis group
  • Clostridium spp. taxonomy
  • Methodology
  • Metronidazole
  • Susceptibility testing
  • β-lactams

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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