Objective: To determine the presence of the oxidase enzymes (e.g. cytochrome c oxidase).
Test Procedure and Interpretation
1. Grow the culture on a BHI plate for 48 hours. Up to 7 day old cultures are fine.
2. Warm the plate to 20-37°C. Pick a good amount of the test organism with a sterile swab and rub onto the reaction area of a DrySlide card. If the organism is oxidase positive, a purple color will develop on the slide within 20 seconds. The slide is saturated with Kovacs' oxidase reagent (1% N, N, N', N' tetra-methyl-p-phenylene diamine dihydrochloride). Oxidase negative colonies do not change the color of the slide in 20 seconds, or if they do, it would be after 20 seconds and thus negative.
-- Most Gram-positive bacteria and all Enterobacteriaceae are oxidase negative.
-- Do not attempt to perform an oxidase test on any colonies growing on media containing glucose, as glucose fermentation will inhibit oxidase enzyme activity, and result in possible false negatives. Oxidase test on Gram-negative rods should be performed only on colonies from nonselective and/or non-differential media to ensure valid results.
-- The culture should not be older than a week, unless the species is a slowgrower. False results may be obtained if the culture is old.
-- The oxidase reagent quickly auto-oxidizes (by free oxygen in the air) and loses its sensitivity. The reagent should be discarded if any precipitate forms. Avoid undue exposure of the reagent to light. The reagent must be made up fresh each week.
-- Time period for color development must be adhered to since a purpleblack color may develop later due to auto-oxidation of reagent and/or a weak positive oxidase organism containing a small quantity of cytochrome c oxidase.
-- As an alternative to Kovacs' reagent, one may use a few drops of a 1:1 mixture of 1% α−naphthol in 95% ethanol and freshly prepared 1% aqueous dimethyl-p-phenylenediamine oxalate.