Luminometric Label Array for Counting and Differentiation of Bacteria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Methods for simple and fast detection and differentiation of bacterial species are required, for instance, in medicine, water quality monitoring, and the food industry. Here, we have developed a novel label array method for the counting and differentiation of bacterial species. This method is based on the nonspecific interactions of multiple unstable lanthanide chelates and selected chemicals within the sample leading to a luminescence signal profile that is unique to the bacterial species. It is simple, cost-effective, and/or user-friendly compared to many existing methods, such as plate counts on selective media, automatic (hemocytometer-based) cell counters, flow cytometry, and polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based methods for identification. The performance of the method was demonstrated with nine single strains of bacteria in pure culture. The limit of detection for counting was below 1000 bacteria per mL, with an average coefficient of variation of 10% achieved with the developed label array. A predictive model was trained with the measured luminescence signals and its ability to differentiate all tested bacterial species from each other, including members of the same genus Bacillus licheniformis and Bacillus subtilis, was confirmed via leave-one-out cross-validation. The suitability of the method for analysis of mixtures of bacterial species was shown with ternary mixtures of Bacillus licheniformis, Escherichia coli JM109, and Lactobacillus reuteri ATCC PTA 4659. The potential future application of the method could be monitoring for contamination in pure cultures; analysis of mixed bacterial cultures, where examining one species in the presence of another could inform industrial microbial processes; and the analysis of bacterial biofilms, where nonspecific methods based on physical and chemical characteristics are required instead of methods specific to individual bacterial species.


  • Milla Högmander
  • Catherine J. Paul
  • Sandy Chan
  • Elina Hokkanen
  • Ville Eskonen
  • Tapio Pahikkala
  • Sari Pihlasalo
External organisations
  • University of Turku
  • Sweden Water Research AB
  • Lund University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Microbiology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3208-3216
Number of pages9
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Mar 7
Publication categoryResearch