Today, all commercialized technology to directly detect bacteria requires either staining, fluorescence, or incubation. SBT Instruments will offer a product, which can perform very rapid measurements of the bacteria level in aqueous solutions with no pretreatment of the sample, no incubation time, and no advanced user interaction. This is accomplished by using impedance flow cytometry. The technology is based on an electrical detection principle, where impedance measurements are used to detect particles and bacteria on a single cell basis.
The working principle behind impedance flow cytometry is simple. A liquid sample is continuously injected into a microfluidic channel with integrated electrodes over which a multi-frequency voltage signal is applied. Bacteria and particles transition across the electrodes which results in a change in impedance. The impedance change for bacteria is uniquely different compared to other non-organic particles, and it is therefore possible to provide a very accurate estimate of both the bacteria and particle count in the sample in real-time. The working principle detects all bacteria species in the liquid sample, as every bacteria will result in a corresponding impedance change when they enter the system. The unit of measurement for BactoBox is therefore total bacteria count per milliliter (bacteria/ml).
What is total bacteria count?
SBT Instruments uses the technology of impedance flow cytometry (IFC) to electrically detect all bacteria and other particles in surface samples, while simultaneously differentiating the bacteria from the other particles. This makes it the perfect tool for quantitatively assessing the cleanliness of a surface. We do not operate in secondary units such as relative light units or enzymatic reaction times, which may differ from measurent to measurement and from system to system. Instead we operate in actual bacterial counts that can not be misinterpreted. BactoBox is able to provide information on the number of bacteria in a surface swab in just 5 minutes.
Total bacteria count vs. total plate count
Total plate counts (TPC) has been the standard method for measuring bacteria for hundreds of years, but it has certain flaws. Most notably, the response time is very long, typically 24–72h. Additionally, only a fraction of the bacteria are actually counted during a TPC because different bacteria species grow better at different temperatures and on different nutritional media. The typical unit used for TPC counts is CFU, short for colony forming unit, which indicates how many bacteria formed colonies on the specific plate and at the specific temperature used. There is an effect typically referred to as the great plate count anomaly, which states that the actual number of bacteria in a sample is usually 100x-1000x larger than what the total plate count suggests. SBT Instruments measures the unique electrical footprint of every bacteria, and is therefore able to count all bacteria, cultivable and non-cultivable, in a sample. This means that the concentrations measured by BactoBox are usually orders of magnitude higher than a corresponding TPC count and therefore also gives a much more accurate view of the bacterial content of the sample.