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Enhanced contrast of bacteriophage plaques in Salmonella with ferric ammonium citrate and sodium thiosulfate (FACST) and tetrazolium red (TZR)

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Visualization of bacteriophage plaques may be enhanced by addition of ferric ammonium citrate and sodium thiosulfate (FACST) or 2,3,5-triphenyltetrazolium chloride (tetrazolium red, TZR) to the soft agar layer of a traditional bacteriophage plaque assay. Background color from these reagents improved contrast between clear plaques and turbid host lawns in trypticase soy agar (TSA) plates. Enhancement by FACST is based on reaction with hydrogen sulfide gas (H2S) produced by some strains of bacteria and was tested here using H2S+ and H2S- strains of Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica with a bacteriophage (Podoviridae) isolated from swine lagoon effluent. Only the H2S+ strain produced dark brown-black color in FACST-amended agar. Both strains showed bright pinkish-red color in TZR-amended agar. Color intensity for both reagents decreased with decreasing concentrations of the reagents. Contrast in FACST-amended plates appeared greater than that with TZR, but diminished after 12 h, while contrast in TZR-amended plates remained constant. At the concentrations tested, neither reagent affected plaque counts in the H2S+ strain. The FACST should be useful in bacteriophage plaque assays with H2S+ strains of Salmonella and other H2S+ bacteria.
McLaughlin, M.R. , Balaa, M.F.
Includes references
Journal of microbiological methods 2006 May, v. 65, issue 2
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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