Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 98, Issue 2, pp 855–862 | Cite as

Monitoring bacterial growth using tunable resistive pulse sensing with a pore-based technique

  • Allen C. S. Yu
  • Jacky F. C. Loo
  • Samuel Yu
  • S. K. Kong
  • Ting-Fung Chan
Methods and protocols


A novel bacterial growth monitoring method using a tunable resistive pulse sensor (TRPS) system is introduced in this study for accurate and sensitive measurement of cell size and cell concentration simultaneously. Two model bacterial strains, Bacillus subtilis str.168 (BSU168) and Escherichia coli str.DH5α (DH5α), were chosen for benchmarking the growth-monitoring performance of the system. Results showed that the technique of TRPS is sensitive and accurate relative to widely used methods, with a lower detection limit of cell concentration measurement of 5 × 105 cells/ml; at the same time, the mean coefficient of variation from TRPS was within 2 %. The growth of BSU168 and DH5α in liquid cultures was studied by TRPS, optical density (OD), and colony plating. Compared to OD measurement, TRPS-measured concentration correlates better with colony plating (R = 0.85 vs. R = 0.72), which is often regarded as the gold standard of cell concentration determination. General agreement was also observed by comparing TRPS-derived cell volume measurements and those determined from microscopy. We have demonstrated that TRPS is a reliable method for bacterial growth monitoring, where the study of both cell volume and cell concentration are needed to provide further details about the physical aspects of cell dynamics in real time.


Tunable resistive pulse sensing Bacterial growth monitoring Cell volume Cell concentration 



This work is supported by the Hong Kong RGC Collaborative Research Fund (CUHK3/CRF/11G), the Lo Kwee-Seong Biomedical Research Fund, and the Lee Hysan Foundation.

Supplementary material

253_2013_5377_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (4.4 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 4555 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Life SciencesThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  2. 2.Izon ScienceChristchurchNew Zealand
  3. 3.Lincoln UniversityChristchurchNew Zealand
  4. 4.State Key Laboratory of AgrobiotechnologyThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongChina

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