Synbiosis software allows automated colony counting with CHROMagar plates

ProtoCOL 3 for use with CHROMagar media

Synbiosis has introduced an automated colony identification system for use with CHROMagar.

The software module for the ProtoCOL 3 colony counter means it can identify microbes and count colonies cultured on CHROMagar plates.

It was developed with media manufacturer CHROMagar and can identify any bacteria or yeast cultured on a CHROMagar plate in less than a minute, said the firm.

The manufacturer of automated microbiological systems added this saves microbiologists visually inspecting colonies and manually recording results.

ASM meeting

Kate George, divisional manager for Synbiosis, said the software is used to identify pathogens grown on selective agar and takes away any subjectivity associated with a human operative.

“We approached CHROMagar after we both attended The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) event in the USA as they were the pioneers of chromogenic media,” she told

“ProtoCOL 3 software used to be aimed at just colony counting and zone measurement but we found the natural next step was to try to identify organisms grown on chromogenic media.”

She added that it is working with other media suppliers and planning releases in the future.

Colour picture

The ProtoCOL 3 system uses patented red, blue and green lighting to capture a life-like colour image of the colonies on the plates.

It analyses the image and can distinguish between rose pink and dusty pink and turquoise from steel blue.

This allows identification of pathogens, including Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans, E.coli, Group B Streptococci, Listeria, Vibrio and Pseudomonas.

The system enumerates the different coloured colonies of each species, providing data and reducing operator errors, to generate results which can be stored as images and Excel spreadsheets.

George said food, beverage and water quality control scientists looking for microbial identification results can use the system to increase colony counting throughput. 

“Accurately identifying microbial pathogens, as well as enumerating so many types of colonies on different agars is difficult especially when colours are as close as turquoise and steel blue,” she said.

“However, we have worked for several years with CHROMagar and are delighted with the resulting powerful analytical software because it makes ProtoCOL 3 the only commercial system that can perform this seemingly impossible microbial identification task.”

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