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Information @ a Glance

General

  • Agar (a-gar)' or agar agar ' is a gelatinous substance chiefly used as a solid substrate to contain culture medium for microbiological work.
  • The word agar comes from the Malay word agar-agar (meaning jelly).
  • It is also known as kanten, agal-agal (Ceylon agar), or China grass.
  • Agar-Agar shows a yellowish white colour and it is produced in either powder or strip form.
  • Agar-Agar is a source of beneficial minerals such as Sodium, Magnesium, Iron and Calcium.
  • Agar- Agar is a combination of polysaccharides made up of neutral molecules (agarose) plus others electrically charged (agaropectine). Chemically, agar is a polymer made up of subunits of the sugar galactose.

Production & Extraction

  • Agar can be defined as a hydrophilic colloid extracted from certain seaweeds of the Rhodophyceae class.
  • Agar production by modern techniques of industrial freezing was initiated in California
  • Hydrolysis of agar contained in Gracilaria can be due to endogenous enzymes or to the growth of Bacillus cereus.
  • Agar manufacturing processes have developed since the early freezing method was used to concentrate the extracts of agarophyte seaweeds.

Applications

  • A traditional sector of application of Agar-Agar is the confectionery industry, where it is used as a jellifying agent for jellies and aerated candies.
  • The high melting points of Agar-Agar gels are very useful in the production of baked goods.
  • Agar-Agar has shown a perfect functionality as a flocculating agent.

Technology

  • Determination of haemolysis type is an important technique used in microbiology and medical diagnostics. The haemolytic patterns of various Gram positive cocci (e.g. Streptococci) may be differentiated by haemolysis of red blood cells on blood agar plates.
  • A serological technique is used for specifically identifying fraction I-positive Pasteurella pestis colonies on nutrient agar plates containing specific fraction I antibody.
  • The performance of disc diffusion and E test (Epsilometer test) is evaluated with agar dilution technique for antimicrobial susceptibility testing of H. influenzae.

Market

  • The demand for bacteriological agar comes mostly from industrialized countries although demand in developing countries is also on the rise.
  • Developing countries supply about 90% of the seaweed used for agar, only 38% of the agar is produced in the world market.
  • High Commercial value and dried seaweed is exported to Japan, Korea and even Taiwan. Agar-Agar produced locally is in demand in the local market .
  • Agar-Agar content has lower viscosity compared to other countries.

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