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What is mannitol salt agar?

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Quick Answer

Mannitol salt agar is a gelatinous growth medium that is used in microbiological laboratory settings. MSA is typically comprised of animal proteins, mannitol sugar, agar, table salt and phenol red.

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Full Answer

The high salt content of MSA promotes the growth of saline-tolerant bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus. It also weakens the growth of other bacteria. Additionally, Staphylococcus aureus ferments mannitol, creating a by-product that turns the phenol red component of MSA to yellow. Because Staphylococcus aureus can cause a variety of harmful infections to humans, growing it on MSA, where it can be clearly identified, allows microbiologists to experiment and create ways to control the bacteria.

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