A culture is a test that is often used to detect infections. It involves collecting a sample from the site of infection and inoculating the sample into solid or liquid nutrient media (e.g., agar, gelatin) in order to grow any microorganisms like bacteria or fungi that may be present.
Cultures can be performed on a variety of body samples, including blood, urine, stool, sputum, and pus from a wound. Collection methods therefore depend on where the suspected infection is located and the type of sample being taken. The example pictured here is a throat culture where a swab is rubbed over the back of the throat to collect a sample for culture.