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A light brown agar plate. Two streaks on the plate are bright pink and two streaks are beige.
On this MacConkey agar plate, the lactose-fermenter E. coli colonies are bright pink. Serratia marcescens , which does not ferment lactose, forms a cream-colored streak on the tan medium. (credit: American Society for Microbiology)
  • Distinguish complex and chemically defined media.
  • Distinguish selective and enrichment media.

The end-of-year picnic

The microbiology department is celebrating the end of the school year in May by holding its traditional picnic on the green. The speeches drag on for a couple of hours, but finally all the faculty and students can dig into the food: chicken salad, tomatoes, onions, salad, and custard pie. By evening, the whole department, except for two vegetarian students who did not eat the chicken salad, is stricken with nausea, vomiting, retching, and abdominal cramping. Several individuals complain of diarrhea. One patient shows signs of shock (low blood pressure). Blood and stool samples are collected from patients, and an analysis of all foods served at the meal is conducted.

Bacteria can cause gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestinal tract) either by colonizing and replicating in the host, which is considered an infection, or by secreting toxins, which is considered intoxication. Signs and symptoms of infections are typically delayed, whereas intoxication manifests within hours, as happened after the picnic.

Blood samples from the patients showed no signs of bacterial infection, which further suggests that this was a case of intoxication. Since intoxication is due to secreted toxins, bacteria are not usually detected in blood or stool samples. MacConkey agar and sorbitol-MacConkey agar plates and xylose-lysine-deoxycholate (XLD) plates were inoculated with stool samples and did not reveal any unusually colored colonies, and no black colonies or white colonies were observed on XLD. All lactose fermenters on MacConkey agar also ferment sorbitol. These results ruled out common agents of food-borne illnesses: E. coli , Salmonella spp., and Shigella spp.

Analysis of the chicken salad revealed an abnormal number of gram-positive cocci arranged in clusters ( [link] ). A culture of the gram-positive cocci releases bubbles when mixed with hydrogen peroxide. The culture turned mannitol salt agar yellow after a 24-hour incubation.

All the tests point to Staphylococcus aureus as the organism that secreted the toxin. Samples from the salad showed the presence of gram-positive cocci bacteria in clusters. The colonies were positive for catalase. The bacteria grew on mannitol salt agar fermenting mannitol, as shown by the change to yellow of the medium. The pH indicator in mannitol salt agar is phenol red, which turns to yellow when the medium is acidified by the products of fermentation.

The toxin secreted by S. aureus is known to cause severe gastroenteritis. The organism was probably introduced into the salad during preparation by the food handler and multiplied while the salad was kept in the warm ambient temperature during the speeches.

  • What are some other factors that might have contributed to rapid growth of S. aureus in the chicken salad?
  • Why would S. aureus not be inhibited by the presence of salt in the chicken salad?
A micrograph of clusters of purple spheres.
Gram-positive cocci in clusters. (credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Key concepts and summary

  • Chemically defined media contain only chemically known components.
  • Selective media favor the growth of some microorganisms while inhibiting others.
  • Enriched media contain added essential nutrients a specific organism needs to grow
  • Differential media help distinguish bacteria by the color of the colonies or the change in the medium.

Fill in the blank

Blood agar contains many unspecified nutrients, supports the growth of a large number of bacteria, and allows differentiation of bacteria according to hemolysis (breakdown of blood). The medium is ________ and ________.

complex, differential

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Rogosa agar contains yeast extract. The pH is adjusted to 5.2 and discourages the growth of many microorganisms; however, all the colonies look similar. The medium is ________ and ________.

complex, selective

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Short answer

What is the major difference between an enrichment culture and a selective culture?

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Questions & Answers

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Family kindly help me with this question? 1) Shortlist the configurative measurements of the following human anatomical ranges of÷ - Blood ( haemeglobin) in both male and female - Haematocytes in both male and female - Hepatocytes in both male and female - Lymphocyte / T. Lymphocytes in both male
Gifted
My names are Gift Mwale and am a Zambian. Kindly help me with this research which goes like this... 1) Shortlist the configurative measurements of the following human anatomical ranges of ÷ - Blood ( haemeglobin) in both male and female - Hepatocytes in both male and female - Haematocytes in both
Gifted
please what is the full meaning for TCDS
UDEME
from a single cell
Freedom
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Manya
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disease due to __________ abnormalities are termed primary immunodeficiencies
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Some primary immunodeficiencies are due to a defect of a single cellular or humoral component of the immune system.
Prince
Examples of primary immunodeficiencies include: chronic granulomatous disease, X-linked agammaglobulinemia, selective IgA deficiency etc
Prince
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alteration in genetic makeup
UDEME

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Source:  OpenStax, Microbiology. OpenStax CNX. Nov 01, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col12087/1.4
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