DNase Agar is used primarily in clinical laboratories to differentiate Staphylococcus aureus from other Staphylococci based on deoxyribonuclease activity. Following incubation of the plate and confirmation of a pure growth of Staphylococci, the surface of the medium is covered with a small quantity of 1M Hydrochloric Acid to precipitate the DNA. Staphylococcus aureus produce DNase enzymes that hydrolyse DNA resulting in a clear area around the colonies, described as being DNase positive, whereas coagulase negative Staphylococci do not produce clearing.
NB: As with most tests of this type a positive result should not be taken in isolation and other appropriate tests, e.g. Coagulase Test, Latex Agglutination etc, should be carried out.