Xanthan Gum: An Economical Partial Substitute for Agar in Microbial Culture Media


Xanthan gum, microbial desiccation-resistant polysaccharide prepared commercially by aerobic submerged fermentation from Xanthomonas campestris, has been successfully used alone and in combination with agar for microbial culture media. As illustrative examples, eight bacteria and eight fungi were grown on media solidified with either agar (A, 1.5%), xanthan gum (X, 1%), or combinations of both (0.9% X + 0.1% A, 0.8% X + 0.2% A, 0.7% X + 0.3% A, 0.6% X + 0.4% A). All fungi and bacteria exhibited normal growth and differentiation in all these treatments. Rather, growth of most of the fungi was better on xanthan (alone) and xanthan + agar media than agar medium. As the media gelled with xanthan gum alone flow, it was not possible to incubate Petri plates in inverted position. Moreover, because of the softness, streaking of bacteria was difficult on such media. However, these problems could be overcome by partially replacing xanthan gum with 0.3% agar. Bacterial enumeration studies carried out for Serratia sp. and Pseudomonas sp. by serial dilution and pour-plate method on agar (1.5%), 0.7%/0.6% X + 0.3%/0.4% A yielded similar counts. Selective media, succinate medium for Pseudomonas sp., and MacConkey broth medium for Escherichia coli gelled with 0.7%/0.6% X + 0.3%/0.4% A did not support growth of other bacteria when inoculated along with the above-mentioned bacteria. Likewise, differential medium, CRMA (Congo red mannitol agar) gelled with xanthan–agar combination could differentiate between Agrobacterium tumefaciens and Rhizobium sp.

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Correspondence to Shashi B. Babbar.

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Babbar, S.B., Jain, R. Xanthan Gum: An Economical Partial Substitute for Agar in Microbial Culture Media. Curr Microbiol 52, 287–292 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00284-005-0225-5

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  • Fusarium Moniliforme
  • Xanthomonas Campestris
  • Thermoactinomyces
  • Plant Tissue Culture Medium
  • Microbial Culture Medium