Can We Improve on the Petri Dish with Porous Culture Supports?
Pp. 3-15 (13)
Colin Ingham and Peter M. Schneeberger
Microbial culture is exemplified by the Petri dish, a tool that (one century after its invention)
still remains one of the “gold standards” for microbiological analysis. However, current trends towards
automation, massively paralleled assays, and miniaturization (as well as the observation that we still
cannot culture most microorganisms), suggest that new ideas in microbial culture are required. In the
Petri dish, nutrient containing agar is typically used as the matrix on which microorganisms are
cultured. However, new materials such as nanofibres and nanoporous materials may be better choices as
supporting matrixes. Further, emerging techniques in microengineering and the fabrication of low cost
materials are helping to create new porous disposables that are of sufficiently low cost that they may be
used in the routine microbiology laboratory. These disposables are in turn allowing the development of
novel miniature culture methods to take place, methods such as microchemostats, cages for growing
microorganisms, and “habitats on a chip”. One particularly useful porous ceramic is Porous Aluminium
Oxide (PAO), which can be utilized to generate highly subdivided culture chips that possess up to one
million separate, miniaturized, growth areas. Indeed, this material has applications in microbiological
diagnostics, microbiological research and industrial microbiology. In this chapter, the applications,
advantages, and limitations of porous matrixes and accompanying culture chips will be examined. It is
expected that these advances will yield significant improvements in microbial culture when compared
to the classical Petri dish.
Nanoculture, Petri Dish, Nanoporous Aluminium Oxide (PAO), Chemostat, Membrane
Enrichment, Microdish Culture Chip (MDCC), High Throughput.
MicroDish BV, Hazenakker 18, 3994EJ, Houten, The Netherlands.