PDA- Composition, Principle, Preparation, Results, Uses

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What is a Potato Dextrose Agar (PDA)?

Potato dextrose agar (PDA) is common microbiological basal growth media made from potato infusion, and dextrose is used for the growth of the fungi. Potato Dextrose Agar is recommended by APHA and FDA for plate counts of yeasts and molds in the examination of foods and dairy products. It is a general-purpose medium for yeasts and molds that can be supplemented with acid or antibiotics like Chloramphenicol, Tartaric Acid and Chlortetracycline can be added as selective agents to inhibit bacterial growth. PDA can be used for growing clinically significant yeast and molds. Potato Dextrose Agar is also useful for maintaining stock cultures of certain dermatophytes.

Composition of Potato Dextrose Agar (PDA)

Potatoes, infusion from200.0

 Final pH ( at 25°C) 5.6±0.2

Principle of Potato Dextrose Agar (PDA)

Potato Dextrose Agar (PDA) contains dextrose as a carbohydrate source which serves as a growth stimulant and potato infusion that provides a nutrient base for luxuriant growth of most fungi.  Agar is added as the solidifying agent.  A specified amount of sterile tartaric acid (10%) may be incorporated to lower the pH of the medium to 3.5 so that bacterial growth is inhibited.

Preparation of Potato Dextrose Agar (PDA)

  1. Suspend 39 grams in 1000 ml distilled water. Heat to boiling to dissolve the medium completely.
  2. Sterilize by autoclaving at 15 lbs pressure (121°C) for 15 minutes. Mix well before dispensing.
  3. In specific work, when pH 3.5 is required, the medium should be acidified with sterile 10% tartaric acid.
  4. The amount of acid required for 100 ml. of sterile, cooled medium is approximately 1ml.
  5. Do not heat the medium after addition of the acid.

Result Interpretation of Potato Dextrose Agar (PDA)

Yeasts will grow as creamy to white colonies.

Molds will grow as filamentous colonies of various colors.

Potato Dextrose Agar (PDA)

Colony morphology of some fungi on Potato Dextrose Agar (PDA)

FungiTextureSurface colorReverse colorZonationSporulation
Aspergillus candidusVelvety thickCreamy whiteSlightly creamyRadially furrowed on the reverseModerate
Aspergillus nigerVelvetyWhite with typical black sporesyellowHeavily furrowed on the reverseHeavy
Aspergillus sulphureusVelvetyDirty white with yellow spores at the centerOrange to chocolate colorSlightly radially furrowedModerate
Penicillium corylophilumVelvetyDark greenColorless to CreamyWith shallow center and radially furrowed raised marginModerate
P. expansumVelvetyDark green with clear exudates and distinct sterile white marginYellowRadially furrowedHeavy
Fusarium oxysporumFloccoseMagenta pinkMagenta-red turning violetWith concentric zones of dark and light reddish colorationPoor

Uses of PDA

  • It is used for the detection of yeasts and molds in dairy products and prepared foods.
  • It may also be used for the cultivation of yeasts and molds from clinical specimens.
  • PDA with TA (Tartaric Acid) is recommended for the microbial examination of food and dairy products.
  • PDA with Chlortetracycline is recommended for the microbial enumeration of yeast and mold from cosmetics.
  • PDA with Chloramphenicol is recommended for the selective cultivation of fungi from mixed samples.

Limitations of PDA

  • It is recommended that biochemical, immunological, molecular, or mass spectrometry testing be performed on colonies from pure culture for complete identification.


  1. Potato Dextrose Agar (PDA). TM Media.
  2. http://legacy.bd.com/ds/technicalCenter/inserts/8801441(03).pdf
  3. https://www.emdmillipore.com/Web-CA-Site/en_CA/-/CAD/ShowDocument-File?ProductSKU=MDA_CHEM-110130&DocumentId=201602.369.ProNet&DocumentUID=28219545&DocumentType=DS&Language=EN&Country=NF&Origin=PDP
  4. https://www.fishersci.com/shop/products/potato-dextrose-agar-500g/502015204
  5. http://www.oxoid.com/UK/blue/prod_detail/prod_detail.asp?pr=CM0139&cat=&c=UK&lang=EN
  6. https://wiki.bugwood.org/Acid_potato_dextrose_agar
  7. https://www.eurofins-technologies.com/bacgro-potato-dextrose-agar-500-g.html
  8. https://www.carolina.com/dehydrated-media-and-media-ingredients/potato-dextrose-agar-dehydrated-medium-500-g/786341.pr
  9. https://www.wardsci.com/store/product/8884588/ward-s-prepared-potato-dextrose-agar
  10. https://www.merckmillipore.com/DE/de/product/Potato-dextrose-agar,MDA_CHEM-110130
  11. https://www.neogen.com/categories/microbiology/potato-dextrose-agar/
  12. https://www.sigmaaldrich.com/DE/de/product/sial/p2182
  13. https://www.thermofisher.com/order/catalog/product/CM0139B
  14. https://www.fda.gov/food/laboratory-methods-food/bam-media-m127-potato-dextrose-agar
  15. https://www.mpbio.com/eu/091008517-potato-dextrose-agar
  16. https://www.invasive.org/browse/hostimages.cfm?host=22885

About Author

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Sagar Aryal

Sagar Aryal is a microbiologist and a scientific blogger. He is doing his Ph.D. at the Central Department of Microbiology, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal. He was awarded the DAAD Research Grant to conduct part of his Ph.D. research work for two years (2019-2021) at Helmholtz-Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS), Saarbrucken, Germany. Sagar is interested in research on actinobacteria, myxobacteria, and natural products. He is the Research Head of the Department of Natural Products, Kathmandu Research Institute for Biological Sciences (KRIBS), Lalitpur, Nepal. Sagar has more than ten years of experience in blogging, content writing, and SEO. Sagar was awarded the SfAM Communications Award 2015: Professional Communicator Category from the Society for Applied Microbiology (Now: Applied Microbiology International), Cambridge, United Kingdom (UK). Sagar is also the ASM Young Ambassador to Nepal for the American Society for Microbiology since 2023 onwards.

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