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E. coli smell

George W. Chang changlab at nature.berkeley.edu
Wed Jul 13 19:59:41 EST 1994


In article <301q75$ftl at nnrp.ucs.ubc.ca>, bpgm at unixg.ubc.ca (Brent Pollock)
wrote:

> Does anyone know what compund (or combination of compounds) gives E. coli 
> it's characteristic smell?
> 
> Just wondering.
> Brent Pollock
...........................................................................

Brent,
       E.coli, like most bacteria, smells different on different media. 
For the most part, I do not have the foggiest idea of what gives it its
smell.
       There is one exception, however.  We grow E.coli on
trimethylamine-N-oxide containing medium for a strange and diffuse
reason.  The E.coli reduce the oxide to trimethylamine, the compound
responsible for the smell of rotting marine fish.  On this medium, E.coli
smells like ROTTEN FISH!

Best regards,
George



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