Teknova culture broth bottles

How to Choose Bacterial Culture Broth for Your Application

With the numerous culture media available to bacterial researchers, it can sometimes be difficult to determine which type is appropriate for your application. You will likely use both broth and agar forms of media in your research. However, broth media are especially useful for creating freezer stocks, providing a high-oxygen environment, and conducting experiments that require the cells to be in suspension. Even when you have narrowed your search to broth media, there are still many options. Below, we help you select the right broth media for your application.

Rich, Complex Media

Most Applications

For routine maintenance of bacterial cultures, you will likely require a rich, complex medium containing animal, plant, or yeast extracts or enzymatic digests (e.g., peptones) (see orange box for amino acid profiles of yeast extract and peptones). These media are suitable for most applications except physiological or metabolic studies. Commonly used rich, complex broth media include LB Broth (Miller, Lennox, Luria), Brain Heart Infusion Broth, Nutrient Broth, and Tryptic Soy Broth:

LB Broth – for Escherichia coli and other easy-to-grow bacteria; select the type of LB broth to provide the osmotic conditions appropriate for your particular bacterial strain or application, based on the sodium chloride (NaCl) concentration: 1% NaCl (Miller), 0.5% NaCl (Lennox), or 0.05% NaCl (Luria); use Lennox and Luria formulations when working with salt-sensitive antibiotics—those that are unstable in the presence of high salt concentrations—or with salt-sensitive bacterial strains

Amino Acid Profiles
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Yeast Extract

Brain Heart Infusion Broth – for more difficult-to-grow organisms, such as Neisseria spp. and Streptococcus spp.; contains higher nutritional content

Nutrient Broth – for easy-to-grow bacteria, such as E. coli and other coliforms; contains no added sodium chloride

Tryptic Soy Broth – for many different organisms, including Campylobacter spp., Salmonella spp., Staphylococci spp., that are not particularly difficult to grow; used by The United States Pharmacopeia (USP) for sterility testing and routinely in clinical microbiology labs

Specific Applications

Some rich, complex broth media are intended for specific applications. These media include:

2XYT Broth – for growth of recombinant E. coli

NZ Broth – for cultivation of recombinant E. coli and propagation of λ bacteriophage; several NZ broths are available, including NZ, NZY, NZYCM, NZYM, and NZYM Plus

SOB Medium– for cultivation of E. coli, often used for high transformation efficiency

Super Broth – often used for high plasmid yields

Terrific Broth – for cultivation of E. coli, allows for growth to high density before plasmid purification

Mueller Hinton Broth – commonly used for antimicrobial susceptibility tests and to support the growth of difficult-to-cultivate organisms, including Francisella spp.

Chemically Defined Media

Most Applications

For studying bacterial metabolism, a chemically defined rich or minimal medium is appropriate. Commonly used chemically defined minimal media include MOPS Minimal Media and M9 Minimal Media (Teknova offers many variations of MOPS Minimal Media and M9 Media). If your research requires low availability of iron or other metals, then MOPS Minimal Media is the appropriate choice [1]. M9 contains high levels of phosphate, which chelates metals that could contaminate the media. Also, certain bacterial species grow better in one medium compared to the other; for example, the preferred choice for Pseudomonas aeruginosa is MOPS Minimal Media [2].

Teknova also provides a rich version of MOPS Minimal Media, called MOPS EZ Rich Defined Medium.

Specific Applications

You may study an organism that requires or prefers a mixture of nutrients not usually available in common chemically defined broth media. Teknova offers a variety of chemically defined media customized for specific organisms:

Acinetobacter Minimal Medium – for cultivation of the soil microorganisms Acinetobacter spp., which can be a cause of hospital-acquired infections or infections in immunocompromised individuals

CGXII Minimal Media – for cultivation of Corynebacterium spp.

Halobacterium halobium Defined Medium – for cultivation of Halobacterium halobium (Halobacterium salinarum), which requires an extremely high-salinity environment

Antibiotics and Additives

Many of the broth media Teknova offers are available in formulations that include antibiotics, which are useful for selecting for either strains inherently antibiotic resistant or carrying antibiotic resistance genes on a plasmid or in their genome due to genetic engineering.

Other metabolites (e.g., amino acids and nucleotides) and carbon sources (e.g., glucose, glycerol, maltose, and starch) are added to certain formulations for various reasons, such as: provide additional nutrients for bacterial species with high nutritional requirements, help create bacterial freezer stocks, aid in genetic engineering, or absorb bacterial toxins.

Custom Broth Media

Teknova specializes in customization, allowing you to adapt or formulate media to your specifications. Examples of customization for media include specification of raw materials; addition of specific antibiotics or metabolites; adjustments to formulation, concentration, volume, and packaging; and additional quality testing, including sterility and endotoxin testing.

Media Preparation

Media at Teknova is prepared using a water system that is monitored to meet the USP water for injection (WFI) standards and the ASTM Standards for “ASTM Type I.” Learn more about Teknova water.


1. Neidhardt FC, Bloch PL, and Smith DF. (1974) Culture medium for enterobacteria. J Bacteriol 119:736–747.

2. LaBauve AE and Wargo MJ. (2012) Growth and laboratory maintenance of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Curr Protoc Microbiol 6:Unit 6E.1.