Vibrio cholerae in the environment: a simple method for reliable identification of the species.
A simple screening and identification protocol was assessed for the efficient distinction of colonies of Vibrio cholerae species from others obtained on thiosulphate citrate bile salts sucrose agar after isolation from different environmental specimens. It was demonstrated here that the yellow colonies (sucrose-fermenting), which are able to grow on nutrient agar without added NaCl and which present a positive oxidase reaction, can be confidently considered as presumptive V. cholerae. Confirmation of the identification was carried out using the API 20E microtest and by species-specific ompW-based polymerase chain reaction: 809 of 925 isolates obtained by this screening procedure were identified as V. cholerae by API 20E and confirmed by PCR. The results showed that the direct use of the PCR-based method for the definite identification of the screened colonies gave better results than the API 20E method: of a selection of 100 isolates presumptively identified as V. cholerae according to the proposed screening procedure, all gave a positive result with PCR but only 94 were confirmed by API 20E. This protocol provides reliable identification of V. cholerae species and is adapted to the capabilities of routine clinical, food-testing and environmental microbiology laboratories.