Caister Academic Press

Microbial Cytometry: What It Was, Is, and May Be

Howard M. Shapiro
from: Flow Cytometry in Microbiology: Technology and Applications (Edited by: Martin G. Wilkinson). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2015) Pages: 1-16.


Microbes were discovered, counted, and sized in a microfluidic device by Antonie van Leeuwenhoek in the late 1600s, but their importance in nature and in health did not become apparent until the late 1800s, when many classical methods of microbial analysis were developed. It has only been since the mid-1900s that cytometry has made it possible to detect, identify, and characterize single microorganisms and other cells in terms of their structure, function, and genetics. Modern multiparameter cytometry typically makes multiple physical measurements of a cell, most commonly of light scattering and fluorescence, which may be emitted from cellular constituents themselves or from reagents or probes added to facilitate their detection and quantification. Flow cytometers, in which cells are analyzed as they flow through the apparatus in a fluid stream, can be equipped with sorting capability to allow separation of cells with preselected characteristics; however, when sorting is not required, an increasing proportion of the measurements now made in flow cytometers can be made in simpler, less expensive imaging systems. By 2020, improvements along this line should allow the benefits of cytometric technology to be applied to problems and in places for and in which it was previously unaffordable. Microbiologists, who have been among the "have-nots" with respect to cytometry, even in affluent countries, stand to benefit substantially from this read more ...
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