Special microbial media. Certain microorganisms are cultivated in selective media. These media retard the growth of unwanted organisms while encouraging the growth of the organisms desired. For example, mannitol salt agar is selective for staphylococci because most other bacteria cannot grow in its high-salt environment. Another selective medium is brilliant green agar, a medium that inhibits Gram-positive bacteria while permitting Gram-negative organisms such as Salmonella species to grow. Still other culture media are differential media. These media provide environments in which different bacteria can be distinguished from one another. For instance, violet red bile agar is used to distinguish coliform bacteria such as Escherichia coli from noncoliform organisms. The coliform bacteria appear as bright pink colonies in this media, while noncoliforms appear a light pink or clear.
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