Method-induced variation in the bacterial cell surface hydrophobicity MATH test

Jesús A. Salas-Tovar, Sarai Escobedo-García, Guadalupe I. Olivas, Carlos H. Acosta-Muñiz, Federico Harte, David R. Sepulveda

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8 Scopus citations


Bacterial cell surface hydrophobicity is a relevant property in determining the ability of bacteria to adhere to inert surfaces. This property has been measured using the microbial adhesion to hydrocarbon (MATH) test. Several reports in the literature establish the percentage of adhesion to hydrocarbons (PoAtH) value produced by the MATH test for a broad variety of bacteria. Discrepancies in PoAtH values reported for the same strain of a specific microorganism suggest that some method-induced variation may exist, as different research teams employ different versions of the assay. The objective of the present study was to compare the performance of different versions of the MATH test as reported in the literature, to quantify the magnitude of the method-induced variation on PoAtH values. The study demonstrated that PoAtH values are influenced twice as much by variations in the employed assay than by actual differences in cell surface composition or architecture. The two L. reuteri strains studied responded differently to changes in assay conditions showing 40 and 70% method-dependent variation for strain ATCC 53609 and 55730, respectively. These results highlight the need to properly standardize the MATH test to enable comparison of PoAtH values produced by independent research teams.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106234
JournalJournal of Microbiological Methods
StatePublished - Jun 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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