For the trainee or new scientist starting in a bacteriology laboratory, knowledge of the media used in the workplace is a useful starting point in getting to grips with the job. For those more “experienced” scientists and technicians, an occasional revision of media knowledge is well worthwhile every now and again. I am not usually one to advocate learning a lot of factual knowledge, but I do recommend some basic reading around media types.
It is good to have an idea of the different types of media used in the laboratory, including solid (plates, slopes) and liquid media, and the different media used both for diagnostic and storage purposes.
For selective media, it is good to know what types of organisms grow on which plates, and why this happens according to the constituents/recipe of the agar.
The competent bacteriology scientist will know which media are required for different sample types and what organisms grow on which media.
The good bacteriology scientist will not just be able to do the above but also explain why certain media are used for certain sample types.
The excellent (and innovative) bacteriology scientist will also be able (and not afraid) to make the suggestion “What is the point of using this media type A for this sample type B. It is not offering us anything extra over and above the other plates we are setting up.” or alternatively “We could add this media X for this particular sample type Y to improve our chances of isolating micro-organism Z.”
Suggestions don’t always work, often for reasons which may not be immediately apparent, but all staff should be given the opportunity and forum to make such suggestions, as opposed to settling passively for the Status Quo.
Click here for some basic MCQs on culture media.
Click here for a 5 min overview on media types.