Yeast identification: reassessment of assimilation tests as sole universal identifiers

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Aims:To assess whether assimilation tests in isolation remain a valid method of identification of yeasts, when applied to a wide range of environmental and spoilage isolates.Methods and Results:Seventy-one yeast strains were isolated from a soft drinks factory. These were identified using assimilation tests and by D1/D2 rDNA sequencing. When compared to sequencing, assimilation test identifications (MicroLog™) were 18·3% correct, a further 14·1% correct within the genus and 67·6% were incorrectly identified. The majority of the latter could be attributed to the rise in newly reported yeast species.Conclusions:Assimilation tests alone are unreliable as a universal means of yeast identification, because of numerous new species, variability of strains and increasing coincidence of assimilation profiles. Assimilation tests still have a useful role in the identification of common species, such as the majority of clinical isolates.Significance and Impact of the Study:It is probable, based on these results, that many yeast identifications reported in older literature are incorrect. This emphasizes the crucial need for accurate identification in present and future publications.

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