A Cost-Effective Solution for the Reliable Determination of Cell Numbers of Microorganisms in Liquid Culture
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The concentration of microorganisms in growth medium is an important parameter in microbiological research. One of the approaches to determine this parameter is based on the physical interaction of small particles with light that results in light scattering. Table-top spectrophotometers can be used to determine the scattering properties of a sample as a change in light transmission. However, a portable, reliable, and maintenance-free instrument that can be built from inexpensive parts could provide new research opportunities. In this report, we show how to build such an instrument. This instrument consists of a low power monochromatic light-emitting diode, a monolithic photodiode, and a microcontroller. We demonstrate that this instrument facilitates the precise determination of cell concentrations for the bacteria Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa as well as the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 and the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii.
JJL would like to acknowledge a University of Otago Postgraduate Publishing Bursary for financial support. Part of this study was also supported by a Postdoctoral Fellowship to MFH-M from the New Zealand Ministry for Science and Innovation. We would collectively like to thank Katy Booth for help with acquiring and cultivating Pseudomonas aeruginosa in liquid culture.