Colony counting and colony picking are widely recognized as boring, repetitive tasks. In 1963 Joshua Lederberg noted, "The most tedious operation in bacterial genetics is counting-colonies."1 So it is not surprising that researchers have a strong desire to automate the process.

The first commercially available automated colony-counting system was produced in the 1970's, according to Michael Zervoudis, sales and marketing manager at Gainesville, Va.-based BioLogics. Artek Systems, BioLogics' predecessor, developed the Cytotally plaque-counting system under contract with Fisher Scientific around 1969, Zervoudis explains. "About five years later, they discovered that the system would also work extremely well for colony counting." This modified instrument was marketed as the Artek Counter. In the following three decades, automatic colony-counting systems became increasingly popular, powerful, and versatile. Automated colony counter manufacturers now estimate the time saved with an automated instrument versus manual colony counting between 75% and 90%.

What's a Colony...

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