Culture Media Examples, Components and Primary Purpose

Culture Media ExamplesComponents/CommentsPrimary Purpose
Bile esculin agar (BEA) Nutrient agar base with ferric citrate. Hydrolysis of esculin by group D streptococci imparts a brown color to medium; sodium deoxycholate inhibits many bacteria.Differential isolation and presumptive identification of group D streptococci and enterococci
Bile esculin azide agar with vancomycinContains azide to inhibit gram-negative bacteria, vancomycin to select for resistant gram-positive bacteria, and bile esculin to differentiate enterococci from other vancomycin-resistant bacteria that may growSelective and differential for cultivation of vancomycin resistant enterococci from clinical and surveillance specimens
Blood agar (BA)Trypticase soy agar, Brucella agar, or beef heart infusion with 5% sheep bloodCultivation of nonfastidious microorganisms, determination of hemolytic reactions
Bordet-Gengou agarPotato-glycerol–based medium enriched with 15%- 20% defibrinated blood; contaminants inhibited by methicillin (final concentration of 2.5 µm/mL)Isolation of Bordetella pertussis and Bordetella parapertussis
Brain-heart infusion agar or brothDextrose, pork brain, and heart dehydrated infusionsCultivation of fastidious organisms
Buffered charcoal–yeast extract agar (BCYE)Yeast extract, agar, charcoal, and salts supplemented with L-cysteine HCl, ferric pyrophosphate, ACES buffer, and alpha-ketoglutarateEnrichment for Legionella spp. Supports the growth of Francisella and Nocardia spp.
Buffered charcoal yeast extract (BCYE) agar with antibioticsBCYE supplemented with polymyxin B, vancomycin, and ansamycin to inhibit gram negative bacteria, gram-positive bacteria, and yeast, respectivelyEnrichment and selection for Legionella spp.
Burkholderia cepacia selective agarBile salts, gentamicin, ticarcillin, polymyxin B, peptone, yeast extractFor recovery of B. cepacia from cystic fibrosis patients
Campy-blood agarContains vancomycin (10 mg/L), trimethoprim (5 mg/L), polymyxin B (2500 U/L), amphotericin B (2 mg/L), and cephalothin (15 mg/L) in a Brucella agar base with sheep bloodSelective for Campylobacter spp.
Campylobacter thioglycollate brothThioglycollate broth supplemented with increased agar concentration and antibioticsSelective holding medium for recovery of Campylobacter spp. Incubated at 4°C for cold-enrichment
CDC* anaerobe 5% sheep blood agarTryptic soy broth with phenyl-ethyl alcohol, 5% sheep blood, and added nutrientsImproved growth of obligate, slowgrowing anaerobes
Cefoperazone, vancomycin, amphotericin (CVA) mediumBlood-supplemented enrichment medium containing cefoperazone, vancomycin, and amphotericin to inhibit growth of most gram negative bacteria, gram-positive bacteria, and yeast, respectivelySelective medium for isolation of Campylobacter spp.
Cefsulodin irgasannovobiocin (CIN) agarPeptone base with yeast extract, mannitol, and bile salts; supplemented with cefsulodin, irgasan, and novobiocin; neutral red and crystal violet indicatorsSelective for Yersinia spp.; may be useful for isolation of Aeromonas spp.
Chocolate agarPeptone base, enriched with solution of 2% hemoglobin or IsoVitaleX (BD BBLTM Becton Dickenson, Sparks MD)Cultivation of fastidious microorganisms such as Haemophilus spp., Brucella spp. and pathogenic Neisseria spp.
Chromogenic mediaOrganism-specific nutrient base, selective supplements, and chromogenic substrateDesigned to optimize growth and differentiate a specific type of organism; routinely used in the identification of yeasts, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and a variety of other organisms
Columbia colistinnalidixic acid (CNA) agar

Columbia agar base with 10 mg colistin per liter, 15 mg nalidixic acid per liter, and 5% sheep bloodSelective isolation of gram positive cocci
Cystine-tellurite blood agarInfusion agar base with 5% sheep blood; reduction of potassium tellurite by Corynebacterium diphtheriae produces black coloniesIsolation of Corynebacterium diphtheriae
Eosin methylene blue (EMB) agar (Levine)Peptone base containing lactose; eosin Y and methylene blue as indicators Isolation and differentiation of lactose fermenting and non lactose fermenting enteric bacilli Gram-negative broth
(GN) Peptone-base broth with glucose and mannitol; sodium citrate and sodium deoxycholate act as inhibitory agents
Selective (enrichment) liquid medium for enteric pathogens
Hektoen enteric (HE) agarPeptone-base agar with bile salts, lactose, sucrose, salicin, and ferric ammonium citrate; indicators include bromthymol blue and acid fuchsinDifferential, selective medium for the isolation and differentiation of Salmonella and Shigella spp. from other gram-negative enteric bacilli
Loeffler medium Animal tissue (heart muscle), dextrose, egg-and-beef serum, and sodium chlorideIsolation and growth of Corynebacterium spp.
MacConkey agarPeptone base with lactose; gram-positive organisms inhibited by crystal violet and bile salts; neutral red as indicatorIsolation and differentiation of lactose fermenting and non lactose fermenting enteric bacilli
MacConkey sorbitol agarA modification of MacConkey agar in which lactose has been replaced with D sorbitol as the primary carbohydrateFor the selection and differentiation of E. coli O157:H7 in stool specimens
Mannitol salt agarPeptone base, mannitol, and phenol red indicator; salt concentration of 7.5% inhibits most bacteriaSelective differentiation of staphylococci
New York City (NYC)
Peptone agar base with cornstarch, supplemented with yeast dialysate, 3% hemoglobin, and horse plasma; antibiotic supplement includes vancomycin (2 µg/mL), colistin (5.5 µg/mL), amphotericin B (1.2 µg/mL), and trimethoprim (3 µg/mL)Selective for Neisseria gonorrhoeae; also supports the growth of Ureaplasma urealyticum and some Mycoplasma spp.
Phenylethyl alcohol (PEA) agarNutrient agar base; phenylethyl alcohol inhibits growth of gram-negative organismsSelective isolation of aerobic gram positive cocci and bacilli and anaerobic gram-positive cocci and gram-negative bacilli
Regan Lowe Charcoal agar supplemented with horse blood, cephalexin, and amphotericin BEnrichment and selective medium for isolation of Bordetella pertussis
Salmonella-Shigella (SS) agarPeptone base with lactose, ferric citrate, and sodium citrate; neutral red as indicator; inhibition of coliforms by brilliant green and bile saltsSelective for Salmonella and some Shigella spp.
Schaedler agarPeptone and soy protein base agar with yeast extract, dextrose, and buffers; addition of hemin, L-cysteine, and 5% blood enriches for anaerobesNonselective medium for the recovery of anaerobes and aerobes Selective for Campylobacter spp. and Helicobacter spp.
Selenite brothPeptone-base broth; sodium selenite toxic for most EnterobacteriaceaeEnrichment of isolation of Salmonella spp.
Skirrow agarPeptone and soy protein–base agar with lysed horse blood; vancomycin inhibits gram positive organisms; polymyxin B and trimethoprim inhibit most gram-negative organismsSelective for Campylobacter spp.
Streptococcal selective agar (SSA)Contains crystal violet, colistin, and trimethoprimsulfamethoxazole in 5% sheep blood agar baseSelective for Streptococcus pyogenes and Streptococcus agalactiae
Tetrathionate broth Peptone-base broth; iodine and potassium iodide, bile salts, and sodium thiosulfate inhibit grampositive organisms and EnterobacteriaceaeSelective for Salmonella and Shigella spp., except Salmonella enterica Typhi
Thayer-Martin agar (TM) (modified Thayer Martin [MTM])Blood agar base enriched with hemoglobin and supplement B; contaminating organisms inhibited by colistin, nystatin, vancomycin, and trimethoprimSelective for N. gonorrhoeae and N. meningitidis. Supports the growth of Francisella and Brucella spp.
Thioglycollate brothPancreatic digest of casein, soy broth, and glucose enrich growth of most microorganisms; includes reducing agents thioglycollate, cystine, and sodium sulfite; semisolid medium with a low concentration of agar reducing oxygen diffusion in the mediumSupports growth of anaerobes, aerobes, microaerophilic, and fastidious microorganisms
Xylose lysine deoxycholate (XLD) agarYeast extract agar with lysine, xylose, lactose,
sucrose, and ferric ammonium citrate; sodium deoxycholate inhibits gram-positive organisms; phenol red as indicator
Isolation and differentiation of Salmonella and Shigella spp. from other gramnegative enteric bacilli
Todd-Hewitt broth
supplemented with antibiotics (LIM)
Supplemented with nalidixic acid and gentamicin or colistin for greater selectivity; thioglycollate and agar reduce redox potentialSelection and enrichment for Streptococcus agalactiae in female genital specimens
Thiosulfate citrate bile salts (TCBS) agarPeptone base agar with yeast extract, bile salts, citrate, sucrose, ferric citrate, and sodium thiosulfate; bromthymol blue acts as indicatorSelective and differential for Vibrio spp.
Trypticase soy broth (TSB)All-purpose enrichment broth that can support the growth of many fastidious and nonfastidious bacteriaEnrichment broth used for subculturing various bacteria from primary agar plates

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