Voges Proskauer Test | Principle, Procedure and Application of VP test

It is called the VP test, it is one of the tests for the identification of bacteria.

In 1898, Voges and Proskauer, a German bacteriologist, first observed the production of red color in the cultures grown in specific media after the addition of potassium hydroxide.

But later Harden revealed that red color was due to resultant formation of acetyl methyl carbinol (acetoin).

In 1936 there was further improvement to the test by Barrit.  The sensitivity of the test was enhanced by the addition of alpha-naphthol to the medium before the addition of potassium hydroxide.

Principal and mechanism of VP test :

Voges-Proskauer test depends on the digestion of glucose to acetylmethylcarbinol (acetoin).

Voges Proskauer test principle

Some organisms undertake the butylene glycol pathway in the fermentation of glucose.

The chief end product of fermentation is 2-3 butylene glycol (it is a neutral product).

However, the VP test detects the intermediate product, ACETOIN ( acetyl-methyl carbinol).

And some fewer quantities of mixed acids are also formed.

Due to the presence of oxygen in the air and 40% KOH (strong base) in medium, acetyl methyl carbinol is get converted (oxidized) to diacetyl. This diacetyl reacts with guanidine compounds commonly found in the glucose phosphate peptone medium of the broth. α- naphthol serves as a color intensifier.

  • A positive result is indicated by a pink-red color.
  • A negative result is indicated by yellow-brown color.

Another principle proving MR test performed along with VP test :

All members of the Enterobacteriaceae can convert glucose to pyruvic acid by the Embden-Meyerhof pathway, but bacteria can further metabolize pyruvic acid by two different pathways.

Organisms metabolize pyruvic acid by the mixed acid pathway, it will produce more acid end products, like lactic acid and acetic acid, this maintains an acidic environment.

If the organism produces a large number of organic acids like formic acid, acetic acid, lactic acid, and succinic acid from glucose fermentation, then the broth medium will remain red after the addition of methyl red, (Methyl red is a pH indicator).

However, MR-negative organisms further metabolize the initial fermentation products by decarboxylation process to produce neutral acetyl methylcarbinol (acetoin).

This results in decreased acidity in the medium and becomes the pH towards neutrality (pH 6.0 or above).

MR test along with the VP test is performed simultaneously because they are physiologically related and are performed on MRVP broth.

Requirement :

The test requires two sets of reagents as

1.Voges – Proskauer reagent A :

50 gm Alpha naphthol

1000 ml of Absolute ethanol

2. Voges –Proskauer reagent B :

400 gm Potassium Hydroxide

1000 ml Deionized water

  • Glucose phosphate peptone water

Procedure for voges proskauer test

  1. First of all label the tube of the medium and Inoculate the microorganisms being tested using a sterile technique. The sterile condition could be maintained by working between the bunsen burner.
  2. Incubate the culture at 37 degrees Celsius for 24 to 48 hours.
  3. After 24 hours, Allow the inoculated media to settle to room temperature.
  4. Sterilize the inoculating wire loop by placing it in the blue flame of the Bunsen burner till it gets red. Expose the base of the wire first and move towards the tip. Allow it to cool.
  5. Decap the test tube containing the sample and expose the neck of the tube to the flame to avoid contamination.
  6. Take the loopful of microorganisms and inoculate the medium(sterile glucose phosphate peptone water) for 24 hours.
  7. Incubate at temperature 37-degree celsius for 24 hours of time.
  8. After 24 hours, make aliquot of 2ml of broth to a clean test tube maintaining aseptic condition.
  9. Remaining broth is re-incubated for another 24 hours at 37-degree celsius.
  10. Add a few drops (6-7 drops) of 5% alpha Naphthol and mix well to aerate.
  11. Add 1-2 drops of 40% KOH and mix well to aerate.
  12. Observe for pink-red color within 30 min.

Shake the tubes vigorously during the 30 mins of the period. Shaking the tubes enhances the VP reaction.

Voges Proskauer Test
The One in Pink indicates positive Voges Proskauer test results (SLU/SVA)

Interpretation of Voges Proskauer test results

  • Positive Reaction: Pink or red color at the surface of the broth
    • Positive results are seen in Streptococci sp. (except streptococcus vestibularis), Klebsiella aerogen, Vibroeltor, Enterobacter, Serratiamarcescens, Hafniaalvei, Vibrio alginolyticus, etc.
  • Negative Reaction: No color change or yellow-brown color
    • Negative results are seen in Coli, Shigella, Salmonella, Citrobacter sp., Streptococcus mitis, Yersinia, Edwardsiella, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, etc.
  • A rust color indicates a weak positive reaction.
  • The VP test should be read within 1 hour of the addition of reagents. Because the KOH could react with α-naphthol to form a copper-like color, causing a potential false-positive interpretation.
  • voges proskauer test
    voges proskauer test result. The One in Pink indicates positive result

Quality Control of Voges–Proskauer (VP) Test :

Positive control:- E. aerogenes(ATCC13048)

Negative control:- E. coli(ATCC25922)


    • It is used to differentiate the Enterobacteriaceae. This VP test is performed along with other biochemical tests to differentiate the genus and species within the Enterobacteriaceae.
    • It is one of the four tests of the IMViC series which tests for evidence of an enteric bacterium.
    • It is also used to detect acetoin in broth culture.
    • It is use to detect organisms like Klebsiella, Listeria, Enterobacter, Vibrio eltor, Hafniaalvei, etc.

Leave a Comment