Published Research - Department of Chemistry


Date of this Version

August 1939


Published in J. Bact. 39(4) 1940. Copyright 1940. Used by permission.


Bacterial fermentation of the sugar acids has received little attention in comparison with the wide-spread use of the common aldoses and sugar alcohols. These acids, and especially their sodium salts, are well suited to bacteriological techniques because of their solubility and heat stability, yet their usefulness for investigating the relationship of chemical structure to biological utilization has only recently been recognized. Their application to systematic differentiation of bacteria has also been neglected.

Kendall, Bly and Haner (1923) concluded from a study of three monocarboxylic acids and three dicarboxylic acids that these compounds possessed little value for the differentiation of bacterial species.

Koser and Saunders (1933) included one monocarboxylic acid with many other derivatives, and Sternfeld and Saunders (1937, 1938) employed seven monocarboxylic acids and one dicarboxylic acid in their studies on the utilization of sugars and their derivatives by bacteria. General conclusions concerning the relationship of configuration to fermentation were drawn, and the potential diagnostic value of certain compounds, especially mucic acid, was pointed out.

The present study involved the use of two dicarboxylic acids, mucic and d-saccharic acids, and ten monocarboxylic acids, d-gluconic, d-mannonic, d-galactonic, d-talonic, 1-gluconic, 1- mannonic, I-rhamnonic, 5-keto-d-gluconic, d-arabonic and 1- arabonic acids. The fermentation reactions of the latter seven had not previously been studied. Related aldoses and sugar alcohols were also included for comparison with the acids. It was hoped to demonstrate additional facts concerning the relation of structure to fermentation of carbohydrates, and to find possible differential fermentations for distinguishing between bacterial species.

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