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The oxidase test is a test used in microbiology to determine if a bacterium produces certain cytochrome c oxidases. It uses disks impregnated with a reagent such as N,N,N′,N′-tetramethyl-p-phenylenediamine (TMPD) or N,N-dimethyl-p-phenylenediamine (DMPD), which is also a redox indicator. The reagent is a dark-blue to maroon color when oxidized, and colorless when reduced. Oxidase-positive bacteria possess cytochrome oxidase or indophenol oxidase (an iron-containing hemoprotein). These both catalyze the transport of electrons from donor compounds (NADH) to electron acceptors (usually oxygen). The test reagent, TMPD dihydrochloride acts as an artificial electron donor for the enzyme oxidase. The oxidized reagent forms the colored compound indophenol blue. The cytochrome system is usually only present in aerobic organisms that are capable of using oxygen as the final hydrogen receptor. The end-product of this metabolism is either water or hydrogen peroxide (broken down by catalase).
Strains may be either oxidase-positive (OX+) or oxidase-negative (OX-).
Also Legionella pneumophila is oxidase-positive.
OX- normally means the bacterium does not contain cytochrome c oxidase and, therefore, either cannot use oxygen for energy production with an electron transfer chain or employs a different cytochrome for transferring electrons to oxygen.
In alternative manner, live bacteria cultivated on trypticase soy agar plates may be prepared using sterile technique with a single-line streak inoculation. The inoculated plates are incubated at 37°C for 24–48 hours to establish colonies. Fresh bacterial preparations should be used. After colonies have grown on the medium, 2-3 drops of the reagent DMPD are added to the surface of each organism to be tested.