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Market Profile: Colony Counters.

Manually counting each colony on a petri dish or microwell plate can be a time-consuming job. Yet colony counting, a duty that is integral to numerous microbiology applications, has become a simple chore due to advanced imaging technologies.

There are many types of automatic colony counters (ACC) geared for a range of applications. Low-end ACCs are relatively simple instruments that require user intervention. A user touches a counting probe to each colony, viewed through a magnifying lens, and a digital counter automatically tracks of the number of colonies. The smallest countable colony size is about 0.5mm. Leica Microsystems and Bantex are major manufactures of these types of ACCs, and large distributors like VWR Scientific Products and Fisher Scientific carry both companies' ACC products.

Mid-range ACCs are characterized by either an internal or external CCD video camera and an illumination stage where the sample is placed. The camera scans the sample's image and the user defines a size criterion for the colonies. The instrument then keeps count of each colony that meets this size requirement, which can be as small as 0.1mm. Biologics and Perceptive Instruments sell mid-range ACCs.

A high-end ACC delivers fast results and accurate data acquisition. What separates this type of ACC from its counterparts is that it is a turnkey solution capable of quantifying all plate types. In addition, the units can read a plate in one second and software immediately captures all data for GLP/QA compliance. These instruments can count colonies as small as 50 microns. The leading manufacturer of high-end ACCs is Synoptics' Synbiosis division, whose ProtoCOL line of colony counters is distributed by Microbiology International in the US.

Automatic colony counters can be used in any lab with microbiology experiments including the pharmaceutical, clinical, environmental and the food & beverage industries and in government and academia. The market for ACCs is growing considerably. With prices ranging from under $1,000 to over $20,000, any lab can find the appropriate automatic colony counter for its needs.
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Publication:Instrument Business Outlook
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 31, 2001
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