Many microbiological tests depend on an accurate count of bacterial and fungal colonies. The process of enumeration is, for the busy laboratory, a relatively slow, tedious task. Moreover, it is not always reliable and open to variations (‘error’) in terms of accurate counting and the counts recorded between different technicians. The counting of colonies relies upon the ability of the technician to 'see' colonies. The extent to which colonies are clear and countable is a product of microbial growth, in addition to the quality of the growth media and the incubation conditions to which the plate has been subject to (time and temperature are the key parameters) (1). Idealized incubation will lead to the formation of colonies that are readily discernible by their improved size, shape, distribution and contrast. This is, in practice, not always the case. Moreover, the method by which the sample was captured can have a bearing on the result. Here, for example, many environmental monitoring techniques can affect the likelihood or otherwise of microbial survival, as with the desiccation effect that can occur with settle plates or the shearing forces associated with air samplers. The application of automated colony counters can help to speed up the process and to improve counting precision provided a reliable and qualified instrument is used.
The colony counting problem can be easily solved by using the "CountThings By Camera" mobile app. You only need to take a photo, click to identify, and the whole process can be automatically completed, and the accuracy can also be adjusted.