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Tannin-Protein Complex-Degrading Enterobacteria Isolated from the Alimentary Tracts of Koalas and a Selective Medium for Their Enumeration

Ro Osawa

Veterinary Service and Research, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Fig Tree Pocket, Brisbane, Australia 4069

ABSTRACT

Tannin-protein complex (T-PC)-degrading enterobacteria (T-PCDE) were isolated from the feces and from a layer of bacteria attached to the cecal wall of koalas. The T-PCDE were facultatively anaerobic, gram-negative, pleomorphic, nonmotile bacilli. The bacteria were also oxidase and catalase negative and resistant to vancomycin, reduced nitrates to nitrites, and grew on MacConkey agar. Growth on tannin-treated agar media showed a distinctive clear zone around the colony. From these observations, a selective agar plate medium (vancomycin- and tannin-treated Wilkins-Chalgren anaerobe agar) was developed to enumerate T-PCDE isolated from the feces of koalas. This medium was highly selective in the enumeration of the fecal T-PCDE and inhibited the growth of concomitant T-PC-degrading Streptococcus bovis. The T-PCDE were isolated from 10 of the 12 captive koalas studied; in 8 of these 10 koalas, the facultatively anaerobic bacterial flora was dominated (more than 60%) by T-PCDE. Viable numbers of T-PCDE were, in most of the animals, much larger (more than 100 times) than the numbers of T-PC-degrading S. bovis, suggesting that T-PCDE played a more active role in digesting T-PC in the alimentary tracts of koalas.