Brief Description

All Mycobacteria species contain mycolic acids in their cell walls. These mycolic acids produce a profile on high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) that varies by species. Mycolic acids are extracted from unknown Mycobacteria cultures then quantified and identified through the HPLC process. All profiles produced from the HPLC are compared against an FDA approved mycolic acid profile library and named according to their similarity with bacterial species included within the library.

Laboratory Unit



High Pressure Liquid Chromatography-MIDI System

Specimen Collection



Submit isolates using the tuberculosis (TB) Category A carrier provided by the MSPHL in accordance with the Infectious Substance, Category A shipping guidelines.

Acceptable Specimen Type(s)

High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) is only used with cultures as a way to successfully identify positive Acid Fast Bacilli (AFB) cultures; we do not use HPLC on clinical specimens.

Clinically significant pure culture isolates on tubes only, no culture plates.

Test Request Form(s)

Possible Results

Any Mycobacterium that has a clear cut profile produced from the HPLC process.

Unacceptable Conditions

Leaked during transport
No name on specimen
Mixed culture
Nonviable organism

Interfering Substances


Result Reported

Clinical specimens may take up to 6 weeks before a final report is released.

Reference isolates submitted for identification purposes only may take up to 2 weeks before a final report is released.



CPT Codes




Additional Information

Identification is based on acceptable HPLC analysis and in some cases, genetic probe testing. If an unacceptable HPLC analysis results, the isolate is referred to the SPHL Molecular Unit for 16S gene sequencing for identification.