Equivalency testing of TTC Tergitol 7 agar (ISO 9308-1:2000) with five culture media for the detection of E. coli in water samples in Greece

Water Sci Technol. 2010;61(1):67-76. doi: 10.2166/wst.2010.781.


In this study ten laboratories in Greece compared the performance of reference method TTC Tergitol 7 Agar (with the additional test of beta-glucuronidase production) with five alternative methods, to detect E. coli in water, in line with European Water Directive recommendations. The samples were prepared by spiking drinking water with sewage effluent following a standard protocol. Chlorinated and non-chlorinated samples were used. The statistical analysis was based on the mean relative difference of confirmed counts and was performed in line with ISO 17994. The results showed that in total, three of the alternative methods (Chromocult Coliform agar, Membrane Lauryl Sulfate agar and Trypton Bilex-glucuronidase medium) were not different from TTC Tergitol 7 agar (TTC Tergitol 7 agar vs Chromocult Coliform agar, 294 samples, mean RD% 5.55; vs MLSA, 302 samples, mean RD% 1; vs TBX, 297 samples, mean RD% -2.78). The other two alternative methods (Membrane Faecal coliform medium and Colilert 18/ Quantitray) gave significantly higher counts than TTC Tergitol 7 agar (TTC Tergitol 7 agar vs MFc, 303 samples, mean RD% 8.81; vs Colilert-18/Quantitray, 76 samples, mean RD% 18.91). In other words, the alternative methods generated performance that was as reliable as, or even better than, the reference method. This study will help laboratories in Greece overcome culture and counting problems deriving from the EU reference method for E. coli counts in water samples.

MeSH terms

  • Agar
  • Colony Count, Microbial / methods*
  • Culture Media
  • Escherichia coli / enzymology
  • Escherichia coli / growth & development
  • Escherichia coli / isolation & purification*
  • Fatty Alcohols
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Glucuronidase / analysis
  • Greece
  • Humans
  • Water Microbiology


  • Culture Media
  • Fatty Alcohols
  • tergitol 7
  • Agar
  • Glucuronidase