organism odors

Enevold.Falsen at alinks.se Enevold.Falsen at alinks.se
Sat Oct 14 09:49:54 EST 1995

---------------------------- Forwarded with Changes ---------------------------
From: SE {ecoli at cix.compulink.co.uk} at UUCP
Date: 10/13/95 10:36PM
To: Enevold Falsen
*To: #Bionet Microbiology
Subject: Re: organism odors ( was re: Ecoli?)

I have not been following the 'odor debate' from the start, but here are 
some comments unrespectfully blended with Kathryn L. Sherlock' 
observations (KLS):

           Obviously the medium is very important. Odor may reveal the  
           kind of metabolism: Examples from the formic acid            
Klebsiella, Enterobacter will have a nicer smell ('aromatic') than
Escherichia coli (more acid = lower pH = sticky). 
Escherichia coli (KLS:on MAC is almost sweet, but on BAP is like        
           Example from the propionic acid fermentation: 
Propionibacterium acnes (smells quite good under certain conditions).
           Even butyric acid has an agreable smell in very low          
           concentrations, and
Clostridium and other strict anaerobic bacteria mostly smell awfully    
           due to surproduction of metabolic products and a large       
           number of degradation products (enzymatically very active    

Corynebacterium diphtheriae smells due to the reduction of tellurite    

           For strict aerobic organisms, the odor may be more or less   
           the same on different media, and degradation products (like  
           ammonia) may be traced:
Pseudomonas aeruginosa (KLS:grape kool-aid) ?
Burkholderia (formerly Pseudomonas) cepacia (KLS:stinks, hard to        
           describe)(my nose has not detected any reproducible smell)
Stenotrophomonas (formerly Xanthomonas) maltophilia (KLS:ammonia)
           (is not the only organism smelling ammonia)
Chryseobacterium (formerly Flavobacterium) species (KLS:tutti-frutti)
           (may also smell ammonia)
Staphylococcus (KLS:species vary from "fresh-sweet" to "dirty-wet dog") 
Proteus mirabilis (KLS:another tough one)
Haemophilus species (KLS:musty-mousy) ??
Streptococcus bovis (KLS:butter-rum) (not so easy to identify ?)
some "normal flora" sputum cultures KLS:(which bug, I don't know)
            have a smell that I can only describe as "Fritos" (KLS:the corn     
KLS:one strain of Pseudo last year that absolutely reeked of dirt and moldy     
          potatoes. The whole lab just stank for days after the plate had       
          been already bagged and autoclaved!
Serratia species may have the 'potatoe' odor or the 'ammonia' odor.

Streptococcus 'milleri' (I can't remember if it is S.anginosus, S.intermedius or
            S.constellatus) has a special odor.
Campylobacter concisus smells 'horse urine'
Alcaligenes faecalis (formerly Alcaligenes odorans) has the best smell of all,  
            but it is close to the smell of Flavobacterium odoratum.

Very subjective - but very usefull !

Could we make the list longer ?

Enevold Falsen

************ CCUG = Bacterial strains & Identification *************
Enevold Falsen, Civ.ing. - Curator            Voice: +46.31.60 46 25
Culture Collection, University of Goteborg      Fax: +46.31.82 54 84
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