A rapid, efficient and sensitive plate assay for detection and screening of l-asparaginase-producing microorganisms


Correspondence: Rajendra K. Saxena, Technology Based Incubator, Biotech Centre, University of Delhi South Campus, New Delhi–21, India. Tel.: +91 11 24116559; fax: +91 11 24115270; e-mail: rksmicro@yahoo.co.in, rksmicro@hotmail.com


l-Asparaginase-producing microbes are conventionally screened on phenol red l-asparagine-containing plates. However, sometimes the contrast of the zone obtained (between yellow and pink) is not very sharp and distinct. In the present investigation, an improved method for screening of the microorganisms producing extracellular l-asparaginase is reported wherein bromothymol blue (BTB) is incorporated as pH indicator in l-asparagine-containing medium instead of phenol red. Plates containing BTB at acidic pH are yellow and turn dark blue at alkaline pH. Thus, a dense dark blue zone is formed around microbial colonies producing l-asparaginase, differentiating between enzyme producers and non-producers. The present method is more sensitive and accurate than the conventional method for screening of both fungi and bacteria producing extracellular l-asparaginase. Furthermore, BTB gives a transient green colour at neutral pH (7.0) and dark blue colour at higher pH 8.0–9.0, indicating the potency of the microorganism for l-asparaginase production.