Increased CO2

Providing an environment with increased levels of CO2 enhances the growth of many medically important bacteria, including species of Neisseria and Haemophilus. Organisms requiring increased CO2, along with approximately 15% oxygen, are called capnophiles. One of the simplest ways to provide this atmosphere is to incubate them in a closed candle jar. A lit candle in the jar converts some of the O2 in the air to CO2; it soon extinguishes because of insufficient oxygen. Although a candle jar atmosphere contains about 3.5% CO2, enough O2 remains to support the growth of obligate aerobes and prevents growth of obligate anaerobes. Special incubators are also available that maintain CO2 at prescribed levels.

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