CHROMagar COL-APSE: a selective bacterial culture medium for the isolation and differentiation of colistin-resistant Gram-negative pathogens

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A selective chromogenic culture medium for the laboratory isolation and differentiation of colistin resistant Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas, Stenotrophomonas and Enterobacteriaceae spp. (CHROMagar COL-APSE) was developed, evaluated and compared to an existing selective bacterial culture medium (SuperPolymyxin).


The medium was challenged with 84 isolates, including polymyxin B (POL B)-susceptible and -resistant type strains and colistin (COL)-resistant organisms recovered from human and animal samples. Susceptibility to COL and POL B was determined by agar dilution and broth microtitre dilution. The lower limit for the detection of COL-resistant organisms was also calculated for both CHROMagar COL-APSE and SuperPolymyxin media. The ability to isolate and correctly differentiate COL-resistant organisms within mixed cultures was also assessed and compared using both media.


Using CHROMagar COL-APSE, Gram-negative pathogens (n=71) with intrinsic (n=8) or acquired COL (n=63) resistance were recovered with 100% specificity down to the lower limit of detection of 101 colony-forming units (c.f.u.). The growth on SuperPolymyxin was similar, but notably weaker for COL-resistant non-fermentative bacteria (Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas and Stenotrophomonas). CHROMagar COL-APSE was also more sensitive in supporting the growth of Enterobacteriaceae with COL resistance associated with the carriage of mcr-1.


CHROMagar COL-APSE is a sensitive and specific medium for the growth of COL-resistant bacterial pathogens. Due to the low limit of detection (101 c.f.u.), it may be useful as a primary isolation medium in the surveillance and recovery of COL-resistant bacteria from complex human, veterinary and environmental samples, especially those with plasmid-mediated MCR-1 or novel mechanisms of polymyxin resistance.

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