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Selective Culture Media

Selective media are designed to inhibit unwanted commensal or contaminating bacteria and help to recover pathogen from a mixture of bacteria. While selective media are agar based, enrichment media are liquid in consistency. Various approaches to make a medium selective include addition of antibiotics, dyes, chemicals, alteration of pH or a combination of these. Thayer Martin Agar used to recover N. gonorrhoeae contains Vancomycin, Colistin and Nystatin.Mannitol Salt Agar and Salt Milk Agar used to recover S.aureus contain 10% NaCl. Potassium tellurite medium used to recover C.diphtheriae contains 0.04% potassium tellurite.

Selective Media

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  • Selectively allows certain organism to grow and inhibit others
  • Lowestein Jensen media- Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Potassium tellurite (PTA)- Corynebacterium diphtheriae
  • Wilson Blair bismuth sulfite medium- salmonella typhi
  • Thiosulphate Citrate Bile salt Sucrose agar- Vibrio


  • Used for growth of only selected microorganisms. Selection by
    • Adding antibiotics, prevents the growth of other cells
    • Lacking amino acids
    • May contain stains and color indicators (EMB)
  • Eosin-methylene blue agar (EMB)
    • Contains methylene blue, toxic to Gram + bacteria, allowing only the growth of Gram – bacteria
  • MacConkey agar (MCK)
    • For Gram – bacteria
  • Buffered charcoal yeast extract agar (BCYE)
    • Selective for certain Gram – , for example Legionella.
  • Mannitol salt agar (MSA)
    • Selective for Gram + bacteria
  • Hektoen enteric agar (HE)
    • Shigella, Salmonella
  • Thiosulfate citrate bile sucrose (TCBS)
    • Vibrio cholerae

Types of Culture Media :

There are some types of important culture or growth media used in microbiological laboratories:

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  • Selective media are designed to inhibit unwanted commensal or contaminating bacteria and help to recover […]
  • Enrichment media are liquid media that also serves to inhibit commensals in the clinical specimen. […]
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