Incubator is a device which is used to grow and maintain microbial cultures. It is a warm cabinet that maintain optimal temperature, humidity and other conditions like carbon dioxide and oxygen content inside the incubator. Its main function is to maintain the favourable condition to promote growth of microorganisms. One can adjust the conditions as per requirement of bacterial strain. It found application in various fields for experimental work like in cell biology, microbiology, molecular biology for bacterial as well as eukaryotic cells.
Main principle of incubator is to maintain condition of temperature and humidity inside the chamber in such way that it forms favourable condition for rapid multiplication of microbial cells. It can be adjusted in such a way that only desired cells are able to replicate and rest of others fails to survive and hence get vanish.
Incubator is made of material like stainless steel which is resistant to corrosion. It is insulated box equipped with heating element, fan, microprocessor or thermostat required to maintain desired condition inside the chamber. For most of bacterial cells 37°C is favourable temperature while yeast like organism require 30°C.
- Incubator is most commonly used equipment in cell culture, tissue culture, biochemical studies, food processing, haematological studies, fermentation studies etc.
- It also finds application in study of tissue culture.
- Recently advanced technology made it possible to use incubator in genetic engineering.