Optical sensing of microbial life on surfaces
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The label-free detection of microbial cells attached to a surface is an active field of research. The field is driven by the need to understand and control the growth of biofilms in a number of applications, including basic research in natural environments, industrial facilities, and clinical devices, to name a few. Despite significant progress in the ability to monitor the growth of biofilms and related living cells, the sensitivity and selectivity of such sensors are still a challenge. We believe that among the many different technologies available for monitoring biofilm growth, optical techniques are the most promising, as they afford direct imaging and offer high sensitivity and specificity. Furthermore, as each technique offers different insights into the biofilm growth mechanism, our analysis allows us to provide an overview of the biological processes at play. In addition, we use a set of key parameters to compare state-of-the-art techniques in the field, including a critical assessment of each method, to identify the most promising types of sensors. We highlight the challenges that need to be overcome to improve the characteristics of current biofilm sensor technologies and indicate where further developments are required. In addition, we provide guidelines for selecting a suitable sensor for detecting microbial cells on a surface.
Fischer , M , Triggs , G J & Krauss , T F 2016 , ' Optical sensing of microbial life on surfaces ' Applied and Environmental Microbiology , vol 82 , no. 5 , pp. 1362-1371 . DOI: 10.1128/AEM.03001-15
Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Copyright © 2016 Fischer et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) provided funding to Graham Triggs under grant number EP/J01771X/1. Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) provided funding to Matthias Fischer under grant number BB/L018160/1.
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