What is Agar Used for In Biology

Agar or agar-agar is a gelatinous substance that is obtained by boiling of another substance called polysaccharide in red algae. There it accumulates on walls of cells and provides a solid surface for bacterial growth. It is used for diagnostic purposes in laboratories, while it is also widely used in plant biology. In plant biology it is used mixed with nutrients and vitamins and facilitates germination of plants in Petri dishes under sterile conditions. However, its use even in plant biology is limited to research purpose, not for the plantation in the field.


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    Agar is used in laboratories by the scientists but purely for scientific experiments. Its particular use is for diagnostic stage in different experiments in human biology. Its particular function is that it provides a solid surface for the growth of bacteria, while the actual process of the bacteria growth can also be observed during the process.

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    The substance, which is gelatinous, is obtained by boiling polysaccharide in red algae. Red seaweeds have such a substance and scientists also use them as a source to derive agar. It is only found on the walls of red cells, meant to protect and help growth of these cells. It particularly supports an individual cell to grow into a community of its own.

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    The substance is also used in plant biology. In fact, its use in plant biology is wider than it is in other biology branches. In plants it facilitates germination of plants in Petri dishes but strictly under sterile conditions. Again, its use in plant biology is limited for research purposes and within a laboratory. It is not used in plantation process for research of general cultivation purpose in the field. In plants it is mixed with vitamin and a nutrient and thus allows effective germination of plants within the laboratory conditions.

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    Its closer counterpart, agar-agar is a vegetable gelatin, that can be used in puddings and jellies. It is sold in washed and dried powder condition in small packages, and is safe for human consumption. However, agar-agar is different from agar, although the chemical formation of both is almost similar and sometimes both are confused with each other. Agar however is not used for products of human consumption, and is very harmful.

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    Agar's other uses are in dentistry and electrochemistry. In dentistry it is used as an impression material while in electrochemistry it is used to make salt bridges for the experiment purposes. There are many other small uses of this chemicals but they are not very common, and it is mostly used in plant biology.

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