Why is McConkey agar selective as well as differential?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “why is McConkey agar selective as well as differential,” and discuss differential media and selective media: What are they and what’s the difference, and for which bacteria McConkey is considered as a selective medium.

Why is McConkey agar selective as well as differential?

MacConkey agar is both selective and differential because it contains two types of indicators: one to selectively prevent certain bacteria from growing on the surface (bile salts), and one to differentiate between two groups of bacteria (lactose).

The bile salts in the agar are what make it selective, because they inhibit the growth of all gram-positive bacteria. This makes it good for isolating gram-negative bacteria, which tend to grow below gram-positive bacteria.

The lactose content is what makes it differential, because it causes some colonies to appear pink and others to appear clear. The pink colonies are from lactose-fermenting organisms like E. coli, and the clear colonies are from non-lactose fermenters like Salmonella.

For which bacteria McConkey is considered as a selective medium?

McConkey is considered a selective medium for the bacteria that are non-lactose fermenters. It is made with lactose, bile salts, and neutral red dye.

McConkey is a selective medium, which means that the nutrients inside it are designed to promote the growth of some bacteria while inhibiting the growth of others. It is most commonly used to grow and study E. coli and other closely related gram-negative bacteria.

The lactose content of McConkey allows for easy detection of E. coli presence, since lactose-fermenting strains of E. coli and other gram-negative bacteria produce pink colonies on McConkey agar, while non-lactose fermenters remain colorless or clear.

For which bacteria McConkey is considered a differential medium? 

McConkey is considered as a differential medium for enteric bacteria like Salmonella and Shigella.

McConkey is a selective and differential culture medium that can be used to differentiate lactose fermenting bacteria from non-lactose fermenting gram-negative bacteria.

Bacteria that ferment lactose produce acid, which leads to the appearance of pink or red colonies on MacConkey agar (MAC). The agar itself is pink due to its neutral red indicator, but the pH of the surrounding environment changes as lactose is fermented into lactic acid. The bacteria that do not ferment lactose will appear colorless against a pink background.

MAC is useful for isolating and differentiating Escherichia coli from members of the Enterobacteriaceae family, such as Klebsiella, Enterobacter, Citrobacter and Proteus.

Differential media and selective media: What are they and what’s the difference?

Differential media and selective media are two different types of culture media used in microbiology. They have distinct clinical significance because they can be used to identify specific organisms.

Differential media is designed to allow the user to tell the difference between different types of similar microorganisms by altering their appearance. Blood agar is a common example of differential media, since it allows researchers to distinguish between pathogenic and non-pathogenic bacteria by causing them to appear differently.

Selective media, on the other hand, is designed to suppress the growth of certain microorganisms while allowing other ones to flourish. This kind of media is used when researchers are trying to grow specific strains of bacteria or fungi in isolation from others that may be present.

While differential media can help with diagnosis and treatment, selective media has a stronger impact on clinical outcomes because it allows researchers to isolate specific pathogens for study so that they can learn more about how best to treat them.

What are the benefits of McConkey agar? What is the clinical significance of McConkey agar?

MacConkey agar is used to isolate lactose fermenters and lactose non-fermenters from a mixed microbial culture.

MacConkey agar is an alternative to the traditional media used to identify enteric bacteria. It is used in the diagnosis of gastrointestinal illness.

MacConkey agar is a special type of laboratory growth medium that is used to culture many types of microorganisms. It is commonly used to grow Escherichia coli, Salmonella, and Shigella species, but it can also be used for other types of microorganisms. It is most often used in the microbiology lab because it is easy to prepare and use.

A vial of McConkey agar contains five components: d-glucose, casamino acids, sodium citrate, bromothymol blue dye, and agar. When each component is added to water, it dissolves into a clear solution.

When the solution is heated in the oven at 356°F (180°C), the agar solidifies. The dye helps to differentiate between bacterial colonies and contaminants, which are gray or red in color on McConkey agar.

The salt in the medium helps to increase the conductivity of media, which allows for a more accurate measurement of bacterial growth as compared to other types of growth media.


In this brief guide, we have addressed the question, “why is a styrofoam coffee cup an imperfect calorimeter,” and other questions related to the subject, such as differential media and selective media: What are they and what’s the difference, and for which bacteria McConkey is considered as a selective medium.




Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.