A rapid growth-independent antibiotic resistance detection test by SYBR Green/Propidium Iodide viability assay

Jie Feng, Rebecca Yee, Shuo Zhang, Lili Tian, Wanliang Shi, Wen Hong Zhang, Ying Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Antibiotic-resistant bacteria have caused huge concerns and demand innovative approaches for their prompt detection. Current antimicrobial susceptibility tests (AST) rely on the growth of the organisms which takes 1-2 days for fast-growing organisms and several weeks for slow growing organisms. Here, we show for the first time the utility of the SYBR Green I/propidium iodide (PI) viability assay for rapidly identifying antibiotic resistance in less than 30 min for major, antibiotic-resistant, fast-growing bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Acinetobacter baumannii for bactericidal and bacteriostatic agents and in 16 h for extremely rapid detection of drug resistance for isoniazid and pyrazinamide in slow-growing Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The SYBR Green I/PI assay generated rapid and robust results in concordance with traditional AST methods. This novel growth-independent methodology changes the concept of the current growth-based AST and may revolutionize current drug susceptibility testing for all cells of prokaryotic and eukaryotic origin and, subject to further clinical validation, may play a major role in saving lives and improving patient outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number127
JournalFrontiers in Medicine
Issue numberMAY
StatePublished - May 1 2018



  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Antimicrobial susceptibility testing
  • CRE bacteria
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • SYBR Green/PI availability assay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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