Bacterial culture detection and identification in blood agar plates with an optoelectronic nose†
Clinical microbiology automation is currently limited by the lack of an in-plate culture identification system. Using an inexpensive, printed, disposable colorimetric sensor array (CSA) responsive to the volatiles emitted into plate headspace by microorganisms during growth, we report here that not only the presence but the species of bacteria growing in plate was identified before colonies are visible. In 1894 trials, 15 pathogenic bacterial species cultured on blood agar were identified with 91.0% sensitivity and 99.4% specificity within 3 hours of detection. The results indicate CSAs integrated into Petri dish lids present a novel paradigm to speciate microorganisms, well-suited to integration into automated plate handling systems.