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Microbial Measurements

Microbial community in false-color scanning electron microscopy image.
Credit: Heidi Leonard

The NIST microbial metrology program focuses on critical national needs in microbiome community measurements, pathogen detection and identification, and microbial cell quantification. Each of these areas has seen disruptive technological innovations over the last decade, paving the way for new science.  We are developing advanced measurement methods, documentary standards, and control and reference materials to improve confidence in microbial measurements and support the bioeconomy.

Current Activities and Products

Microbiome Community Measurements

Reliable, dynamic and discriminating measurements are needed to understand and fully exploit complex microbial systems for human health and industrial applications. Standards, such as reference data and materials, will help to assure the accuracy and comparability of measurements made in different locations.

Biosurveillance and Pathogen Detection

NIST scientists are partnering with academic, industry, and federal stakeholders to develop innovative standards for assessing analytical sensitivity, specificity, and relative performance of state-of-the-art pathogen detection technologies.

Microbial Cell Quantification

Measurements of pure microbial cell suspensions, including total and viable cell number, are fundamental for quantifying microbes and necessary to assign reference values to whole cell reference materials. 

Engineering Biology

This work focuses on the development of measurements and tools that will enable improved predictability and scalability in the engineering of biological systems.

Created February 24, 2020, Updated July 27, 2023