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Types of Culture Media (Preservation to Fermentation)

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Read on to learn about 8 different types of culture media in microbiology.

Read on to learn about 8 different types of culture media in microbiology.

What Is Culture Media?

A culture media is a special medium used in microbiological laboratories to grow different kinds of microorganisms. A growth or a culture medium is composed of various nutrients that are essential for microbial growth.

Since there are many types of microorganisms, each having unique properties and requiring specific nutrients for growth, there are many types of culture mediums based on what nutrients they contain and what function they play in the growth of microorganisms.

A culture may be solid or liquid. The solid culture media is composed of a brown jelly-like substance known as agar. Different nutrients and chemicals are added to it to allow the growth of various microorganisms.

This article will cover some of the following important types of culture and growth media used in microbiological laboratories.

8 Important Types of Culture and Growth Media

  1. Preservation Culture Media
  2. Enrichment Culture Media
  3. Selective Culture Media
  4. Differential Culture Media
  5. Resuscitation Culture Media
  6. General Purpose Media
  7. Isolation Culture Media
  8. Fermentation Media
Agar Plate with bacterial colonies

Agar Plate with bacterial colonies

1. Preservation Culture Media

This is composed of all the basic nutrients required for microbial growth and is used to preserve a specific type of microorganism, preferably bacteria or a set of different microbial entities, for a long period of time.

The basic purpose of this culture is to let these microorganisms grow safely in an ensured environment that has all the important nutrients and to protect them against any environmental damage so these organisms can be used when needed.

2. Enrichment Culture Media

This is a liquid medium that allows the microorganisms to multiply and has the essential nutrients that are required for it. It is usually composed of bacteria taken from a liquid source such as pond water. The basic nutrient broth is the most commonly used.

When developing an enrichment culture, the scientist stimulates the growth of specific microorganisms by thoughtfully creating conditions in the culture that best help the selected microorganisms to grow. The general purpose of this is to isolate microbial specimens that are of interest.

Selective Media Plate

Selective Media Plate

3. Selective Culture Media

This is a special type of media that allows the growth of certain microorganisms while inhibiting the growth of others.

For example, if we want to isolate a specific bacteria, let’s say one that can withstand an acidic environment from a sample of pond water, and get rid of others, a selective media with a low pH will be taken. This will allow the growth of only those organisms that can withstand acidity and kill the others that cannot.

Examples of commonly used selective media include PALCAM agar medium or Mac conkey agar medium.


4. Differential Culture Media

This is a media used to differentiate between bacteria by using an identification marker for a specific type of microorganism. Scientists differentiate between microorganisms in the culture by adding certain chemicals or dyes that the microbial have varied reactions to. The differences in reaction allow scientists to categorize and group the microorganisms in the culture.

The selective and differential culture media are opposites to each other in a way that one inhibits the growth of other organisms while allowing the growth of some, while the other does not kill the others but only highlights one type.

Blood agar is a common differential culture medium used to identify bacteria that causes haemolysis in blood.


5. Resuscitation Culture Media

This is a special type of media used to grow microorganisms that are damaged and have lost the ability to produce due to certain harmful environmental factors.

This culture allows the organisms to regain their metabolism by providing the nutrients that the organisms had been deprived of. For example, if a type of bacteria that requires histamine for its growth is subjected to a medium lacking this essential component, its growth will be inhibited.

If the same bacteria is then placed in a medium consisting of histamine, it will start to grow again. In this case, the media containing histamine will act as resuscitation media. An example of a commonly used resuscitation culture media is the tryptic soya agar.

Fermentation Media

Fermentation Media

6. General Purpose Media

The general purpose media is a non-selective media that supports a large variety of microorganismic growth. It is usually used for enumeration and isolation, but by definition it has a multiple effect, meaning it can be used as a selective, deferential or resuscitation media.

7. Isolation Culture Media

An isolation culture medium is a simple agar-containing solid medium that allows the growth of microorganisms in the direction of the streaks.

For example, the bacteria will only grow on the pattern made on the solidified agar during the streak plate method. This is the most commonly used medium in microbiological labs.

8. Fermentation Media

The fermentation culture media is a liquid selective media that is used to obtain a culture of a specific organism, often a yeast or a particular toxin.

The fermentation media can also be differential, but it is mostly selective in nature, allowing the growth of one type while inhibiting the growth of others. It is usually highly selective, being created for the growth of a specific microbial. It offers the selected microorganisms sources of carbon, nitrogen, minerals, and other helpful growth factors like vitamins and amino acids.

Further Info on Enrichment, Selective, and Differential Media

Sources and Further Reading

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 hassam


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Enriched media

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