Date of Award

Spring 4-1-2019

Document Type



Microbiology laboratory experiments require careful maintenance of sterile reagents and tools as well as the sterilization of waste prior to disposal. However, steam autoclaves typically used for this purpose may not be readily accessible to everyone in the scientific community, such as K-12 teachers, researchers in the field, or students in under-funded laboratories. This work examines the use of commercial electric pressure cookers as an alternative method for the sterilization of media, instruments, and waste. Four commonly available brands of pressure cooker were tested for their ability to sterilize microbiological media, a variety of metal instruments, and high-titer microbial cultures. All four pressure cookers were able to sterilize these starting materials as well as a range of microbial types, including Gram-positive bacteria, Gram-negative bacteria, filamentous fungi, unicellular fungi, and mixed environmental samples. Only the Instant Pot, however, was able to sterilize autoclave tester ampoules of Geobacillus stearothermophilus spores. These results suggest that, depending on the nature of the work undertaken, store-bought pressure cookers can be an appropriate substitute for commercial autoclaves. Their adoption may also help increase the accessibility of science to a broader range of investigators.


This is a capstone project for the General Beadle Honors Program.

Included in

Microbiology Commons