Antibiotics Used in Molecular Biology

Antibiotics are used in a wide range of techniques in molecular biology. My aim with this post is to provide an easy reference to some of the main ones used in molecular biology, their mechanisms, range and working concentrations. I hope you will find it useful.

Your Personal Antibiotics Reference Guide

Ampicillin- Beta-lactam-transpepsidase-Amphotericin B-cholesterol-Carbenicillin-peptidyl transferase-translation-Chloramphenicol-acetyltransferase--Erythromycin-Macrolide-ermC methyltransferase-Kanamycin-Aminoglycoside-initiation complex frame-shift-Kanamycin phosphotransferase-Gentamycin-Nystatin-Inhibits DNA dependent RNA polymerase-Streptomycin-Prevents aminoacyl tRNA from binding to 30S sub-unit-tetracyline-TetR-TN10

*Abbreviations: Gm(+/-)=Gram positive/negative; My=mycoplasma; F=fungus; Y=yeast.

If I have missed out an antibiotic that you use routinely in your work, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment and I will add it to the table.

Originally published on October 2, 2007.  Updated and revised on July 25, 2016.


  1. Luke on August 16, 2016 at 1:12 am

    Thank you for this table! We use Ciprofloxacin a lot in our lab, would you be able to add this when you have a chance please? Thank you!

  2. Anon on August 4, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Small correction, amphotericin is now thought to be fungicidal independent of its ability to form a pore by instead “sponging” up ergosterol from the membrane (see Martin Burke lab for details)

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