MathBench > Microbiology

Methods For Counting Cocci

The dilemma of the dead cell

So far we have one hard way (Direct Count) and one easy way (Photospec) to quantify Frank's meningicoccal load. But both ways share a big problem ... the dilemma of the dead cell.

live catIf you were counting, say, cats ... this wouldn't be a problem. A dead cat and a live cat are generally not easily confused. If in doubt, you could poke the cat, and you would know for sure. However, bacterial cells are much less lively than cats. Yes, there is plenty of stuff going on inside, but in general you're not going to see that from the outside. Under a microscope, cells that are alive and cells that are dead look a lot alike. And to a spec, live and dead cells look exactly alike.

Based on the dilemma of the dead cell, which would you predict?

Direct count and photospec will...?

If we care about getting the number of live cells right, we need a better way...