Voges–Proskauer test

Proteus myxofaciens
Two bacterial broth cultures, showing a positive result (left side) and a negative result (right side) for the VP test.

Voges–Proskauer /ˈfɡəs ˈprɒsk.ər/ or VP is a test used to detect acetoin in a bacterial broth culture. The test is performed by adding alpha-naphthol and potassium hydroxide to the Voges-Proskauer broth which has been inoculated with bacteria. A cherry red color indicates a positive result, while a yellow-brown color indicates a negative result.[1]

The test depends on the digestion of glucose to acetylmethylcarbinol. If glucose is being broken down, it will react with alpha-naphthol (VP reagent #1) and potassium hydroxide (VP reagent #2) to form a red color. Alpha-naphthol and potassium hydroxide are chemicals that detect acetoin.

Procedure: First, add the alpha-naphthol; then, add the potassium hydroxide. A reversal in the order of the reagents being added may result in a weak-positive or false-negative reaction.

VP is one of the four tests of the IMViC series, which tests for evidence of an enteric bacterium. The other three tests include: the indole test [I], the methyl red test [M], and the citrate test [C].[2]

VP positive organisms include Enterobacter, Klebsiella, Serratia marcescens, Hafnia alvei, Vibrio cholera biotype eltor, and Vibrio alginolyticus.[3]

VP negative organisms include Citrobacter sp., Shigella, Yersinia, Edwardsiella, Salmonella, Vibrio furnissii, Vibrio fluvialis, Vibrio vulnificus, and Vibrio parahaemolyticus.[3]


The reaction was developed by Daniel Wilhelm Otto Voges and Bernhard Proskauer, German bacteriologists in 1898 at the Institute for Infectious Diseases.


  1. MacFaddin, J. F. 1980. Biochemical Tests for Identification of Medical Bacteria, 2nd ed. Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore
  2. Bachoon, Dave S., and Wendy A. Dustman. Microbiology Laboratory Manual. Ed. Michael Stranz. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning, 2008. Exercise 15, "Normal Flora of the Intestinal Tract" Print.
  3. 1 2 Bergey's Manual of Systematic Bacteriology, Vol. 1. Baltimore, Williams and Wilkins, 1984.

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