Columbia agar is a general-purpose, non-selective medium capable of supporting the growth of most micro-organisms based on the original Columbia agar formulation described by Ellner et al. from Columbia University. With further enrichment using blood, most fastidious organisms can be isolated and their β-haemolytic reactions can be determined in order to aid identification. The peptone is the source of the required nitrogen, carbon and vitamins. Starch increases growth of Neisseria spp., and enhances the haemolytic reactions of some streptococci. This medium is relatively free of reducing sugars, which have been reported to adversely influence the haemolytic reactions of β-haemolytic streptococci . Supplementation of the base medium with blood (5- 10%) will provide additional growth factors for fastidious microorganisms, and aids in determining haemolytic reactions. It should be noted that the haemolytic patterns of isolates may vary with the source of animal blood and the type of basal medium used.
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