How to optimize the drop plate method for enumerating bacteria
Hamilton, Martin A.
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The drop plate (DP) method can be used to determine the number of viable suspended bacteria in a known beaker volume. The drop plate method has some advantages over the spread plate (SP) method. Less time and effort are required to dispense the drops onto an agar plate than to spread an equivalent total sample volume into the agar. By distributing the sample in drops, colony counting can be done faster and perhaps more accurately. Even though it has been present in the laboratory for many years, the drop plate method has not been standardized. Some technicians use 10-fold dilutions, others use twofold. Some technicians plate a total volume of 0.1 ml, others plate 0.2 ml. The optimal combination of such factors would be useful to know when performing the drop plate method. This investigation was conducted to determine (i) the standard deviation of the bacterial density estimate, (ii) the cost of performing the drop plate procedure, (iii) the optimal drop plate design, and (iv) the advantages of the drop plate method in comparison to the standard spread plate method. The optimal design is the combination of factor settings that achieves the smallest standard deviation for a fixed cost. Computer simulation techniques and regression analysis were used to express the standard deviation as a function of the beaker volume, dilution factor, and volume plated. The standard deviation expression is also applicable to the spread plate method.
Herigstad, B., M. Hamilton,and J. Heersink, "How to Optimize the Drop Plate Method for Enumerating Bacteria,"" J. Microbiol. Methods, 44(2): 1 (2001).