The cultural characteristics and cellular fatty acid composition of 40 strains representing 7 species of Propionibacterium and of 9 cultures of anaerobic corynebacteria were studied. The cultures were characterized by means of 23 separate cultural and biochemical tests. Cultures of the two genera differed consistently in only two reactions; the propionibacteria did not produce indole or liquefy gelatin, whereas the anaerobic corynebacteria were consistently positive with these tests. The fatty acids were extracted from whole cells and examined as methyl esters by gas-liquid chromatography. The most abundant acid in the seven Propionibacterium species was a C15-saturated branched-chain acid which was present in both the iso-and anteiso-form. Based on a comparison of the relative abundance of these isomers (i-C15 and a-C15), the species were separated into two groups. P. freudenreichii and P. shermanii (group one) were similar and contained the a-C15 isomer as the predominant acid. The i-C15 isomer was the most abundant acid in the second group (P. arabinosum, P. jensenii, P. pentosaceum, P. thoenii, and P. zeae). The fatty acid profiles of the anaerobic corynebacteria were somewhat similar to those of the second group of propionibacteria, but were distinct from the profiles of P. freudenreichii and P. shermanii. The addition of branched-chain amino acids (l-leucine and l-isoleucine) to the growth medium increased the synthesis of the specific fatty acid(s) structurally related to the added amino acid
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