Microbial Sampling from Dry Surfaces: Current Challenges and Solutions

  • Ilya Digel
  • Nuraly Sh. Akimbekov
  • Aida Kistaubayeva
  • Azhar A. Zhubanova


Sampling of dry surfaces for microorganisms is a main component of microbiological safety and is of critical importance in many fields including epidemiology, astrobiology as well as numerous branches of medical and food manufacturing. Aspects of biofilm formation, analysis and removal in aqueous solutions have been thoroughly discussed in literature. In contrast, microbial communities on air-exposed (dry) surfaces have received significantly less attention. Diverse surface sampling methods have been developed in order to address various surfaces and microbial groups, but they notoriously show poor repeatability, low recovery rates and suffer from lack of mutual consistency. Quantitative sampling for viable microorganisms represents a particular challenge, especially on porous and irregular surfaces. Therefore, it is essential to examine in depth the factors involved in microorganisms’ recovery efficiency and accuracy depending on the sampling technique used. Microbial colonization, retention and community composition on different dry surfaces are very complex and rely on numerous physicochemical and biological factors. This study is devoted to analyze and review the (a) physical phenomena and intermolecular forces relevant for microbiological surface sampling; (b) challenges and problems faced by existing sampling methods for viable microorganisms and (c) current directions of engineering and research aimed at improvement of quality and efficiency of microbiological surface sampling.


Sampling methods Surface microorganisms Dry surfaces Microbial adhesion Swabbing Contact plates Sonication 



Our research for this chapter was partially financially supported by the K2-Commission of FH-Aachen University of Applied Sciences. We have also received very helpful input from Peter Kayser, Dariusz Porst, Alexandra Lösch, Konstantin Kotliar, Bernd Dachwald, Stephan Neumann, Gerhard Artmann, Shachriar Dantism. We would like to thank Ms. Danielle Hillebrecht for the valuable comments and help in the manuscript preparation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ilya Digel
    • 1
  • Nuraly Sh. Akimbekov
    • 2
  • Aida Kistaubayeva
    • 2
  • Azhar A. Zhubanova
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for BioengineeringUniversity of Applied Sciences AachenCampus JülichGermany
  2. 2.Al-Farabi Kazakh National UniversityAlmatyKazakhstan

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