Assessing the quality of the anaerobic environment - a method developed to support EUCAST disk diffusion of anaerobic bacteria

Ulrik Stenz Justesen*, Jenny Åhman, Erika Matuschek, Gunnar Kahlmeter

*Corresponding author for this work

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The purpose of this study is to establish a method for assessing the anaerobic environment for EUCAST disk diffusion antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST) of anaerobic bacteria on fastidious anaerobe agar with 5% mechanically defibrinated horse blood (FAA-HB). The method utilizes the association between a decrease in the metronidazole disk zone diameter and increasing oxygen levels with an aerotolerant Clostridium perfringens strain DSM 25589 (CCUG 75076 and NCTC 14679). The C. perfringens strain was tested on FAA-HB with a McFarland 1 inoculum and a metronidazole 5 μg disk. FAA-HB was incubated for 16-20 h at 35-37°C. The association between oxygen levels (0, 0.16, 1, 2, and 4% oxygen) and the metronidazole zone diameter was determined. Reproducibility at 0% oxygen was investigated as part of a European multi-centre study of disk diffusion of anaerobic bacteria. The median zone diameters (n=12) at each oxygen level were 29 mm (0%), 21 mm (0.16%), 16 mm (1%), 15 mm (2%), and 15 mm (4%). The metronidazole zone diameters at 0% oxygen from the multi-centre reproducibility-study had a median of 29 mm and a 95%-percentile range of 25-33 mm (n=236). Only one reading was below 25 mm. Based on our results, a zone diameter of ≥25 mm using a metronidazole 5 μg disk and the C. perfringens strain, tested with EUCAST recommendations, can be used to indicate that the anaerobic environment is of sufficient quality for culture and disk diffusion AST. EUCAST has included the method as part of the quality control for AST of anaerobic bacteria.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean journal of clinical microbiology & infectious diseases : official publication of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)895-898
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


  • Anaerobiosis
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents/pharmacology
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Bacteria, Anaerobic
  • Clostridium perfringens
  • Horses
  • Metronidazole/pharmacology
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Reproducibility of Results


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