Antimicrobial Selective Agents for Pathogenic Bacteria

Several different types of antibiotics serve as selective agents in selective culture media to effectively isolate, or select for, a pathogenic microogranism from food, clinical, and environmental samples. Many times, these samples may contain a pathogenic microorganism among numerous types of relatively harmless bacteria and fungi. In order to effectively isolate the pathogenic organism, antibiotic selective agents are added to culture media to hinder growth of the harmless bacteria and fungi to ensure a non-competitive environment for the pathogenic organism. 

An effective selective agent should not kill, or hinder the growth of the isolated pathogen. Theoretically, any antibiotic that doesn't target the selected pathogen but kills "background" growth of harmless microorganisms would be an ideal choice for use as a selective agent. The organisms listed below are some of the most commonly screened pathogens from food, water, clinical, and environmental samples.

Pathogen name Effective selective agents
Bacillus cereus (Gram +) Polymyxin B (FDA recommended)
  Trimethoprim
   
Brucella species (Gram -) Bacitracin
  Cycloheximide
  Nalidixic acid
  Natamycin
 http://www.toku-e.com/Natamycin-P780.aspx Nystatin
  Polymyxin B 
  Vancomycin
   
Campylobacter jejuni (Gram -) Amphotericin B (FDA recommended)
  Cefoperazone (FDA recommended)
  Colistin
  Cycloheximide (FDA recommended)
  Polymyxin B 
  Rifampicin (FDA recommended)
  Teicoplanin
  Trimethoprim (FDA recommended)
  Vancomycin (FDA recommended)
   
Clostridium difficile (Gram +) Cefoxitin
  D-cycloserine (FDA recommended)
  Norfloxacin
   
Clostridium perfringens (Gram +) D-cycloserine
  Kanamycin
  Oleandomycin
  Polymyxin B 
  Sulfadiazine
   
Escherichia coli (Gram -) Acriflavine (FDA recommended)
  Cefixime
  Cefsulodin (FDA recommended)
  Novobiocin
  Vancomycin (FDA recommended)
   
Haemophilus influenzae (Gram -) Bacitracin
  Clindamycin
  Vancomycin
   
Helicobacter pylori (Gram -) Amphotericin B
  Cefsulodin
  Trimethoprim
  Vancomycin
   
Listeria monocytogenes (Gram +) Acriflavine (FDA recommended)
  Amphotericin B
  Cefotetan (FDA recommended)
  Ceftazidime (FDA recommended)
  Colistin (FDA recommended)
  Cycloheximide (FDA recommended)
  Fosfomycin (FDA recommended)
  Nalidixic acid (FDA recommended)
  Natamycin (FDA recommended)
  Polymyxin B  (FDA recommended)
   
Mycobacterium tuberculosis Amphotericin B
  Carbenicillin
  Polymyxin B
  Trimethoprim
   
Neisseria gonorrhoeae (Gram -) Amphotericin B
  Colistin
  Lincomycin
  Nystatin
  Trimethoprim
  Vancomycin
   
Neisseria meningitidis (Gram -) Amphotericin B
  Colistin
  Lincomycin
  Nystatin
  Trimethoprim
  Vancomycin
   
 Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Gram -) Cephalothin
  Cetrimide
  Fucidin
  Irgasan
  Nalidixic acid
   
Salmonella typhimurium, others (Gram -) Novobiocin
  Cefsulodin
  Methicillin
  Nalidixic acid
  Streptomycin
   
Shigella (Gram -) Novobiocin
   
Staphylococcus aureus (Gram +) Colistin
  Nalidixic acid
   
Streptococcus agalactiae (Gram +) Colistin
  Nalidixic acid
  Oxolinic acid
   
Streptococcus pneumoniae (Gram +) Colistin
  Nalidixic acid
  Oxolinic acid
   
Streptococcus pyogenes (Gram +) Colistin
  Nalidixic acid
  Oxolinic acid
   
Vibrio (Gram -) (cholerae, parahaemolyticus, vulnificus)  Colistin (FDA recommended)
  Polymyxin B  (FDA recommended)
   
Yersinia enterocolitica (Gram -) Cefsulodin (FDA recommended)
  Irgasan (FDA recommended)
  Novobiocin (FDA recommended)