Three holding media, including the vitamin-free Casitone holding medium (m-VFC) recommended by Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater for use with the delayed-incubation membrane filter procedure, were compared for their ability to maintain viability of fecal coliforms. Each medium was tested according to the procedure described in the above reference with 60 to 80 pure cultures of fecal coliforms and a variety of natural water samples containing fecal coliforms. Fecal coliform recovery with m-ST holding medium (containing ethanol, sulfanilamide, and Tris [pH 8.6] was significantly greater than recovery with m-VFC (containing vitamin-free casein hydrolysate, sodium benzoate, sulfanilamide, and ethanol). Recovery with m-VFC, was, in turn, significantly greater than with NSB medium (containing nutrient broth, boric acid, and NaCl as major ingredients). Fecal coliform counts obtained with m-ST by the delayed-incubation membrane filter procedure were higher than counts obtained by the standard immediate incubation. This result suggested that some of the sublethally injured fecal coliforms in natural water samples may have recovered during the incubation period. We propose that m-ST be used in place of m-VFC for the delayed-incubation membrane filter procedure
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