Emerging Microtechnologies and Automated Systems for Rapid Bacterial Identification and Antibiotic Susceptibility Testing

SLAS Technol. 2017 Dec;22(6):585-608. doi: 10.1177/2472630317727519. Epub 2017 Aug 29.


Rapid bacterial identification (ID) and antibiotic susceptibility testing (AST) are in great demand due to the rise of drug-resistant bacteria. Conventional culture-based AST methods suffer from a long turnaround time. By necessity, physicians often have to treat patients empirically with antibiotics, which has led to an inappropriate use of antibiotics, an elevated mortality rate and healthcare costs, and antibiotic resistance. Recent advances in miniaturization and automation provide promising solutions for rapid bacterial ID/AST profiling, which will potentially make a significant impact in the clinical management of infectious diseases and antibiotic stewardship in the coming years. In this review, we summarize and analyze representative emerging micro- and nanotechnologies, as well as automated systems for bacterial ID/AST, including both phenotypic (e.g., microfluidic-based bacterial culture, and digital imaging of single cells) and molecular (e.g., multiplex PCR, hybridization probes, nanoparticles, synthetic biology tools, mass spectrometry, and sequencing technologies) methods. We also discuss representative point-of-care (POC) systems that integrate sample processing, fluid handling, and detection for rapid bacterial ID/AST. Finally, we highlight major remaining challenges and discuss potential future endeavors toward improving clinical outcomes with rapid bacterial ID/AST technologies.

Keywords: antibiotic susceptibility testing; automation; bloodstream infection; lab on a chip; sepsis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Bacteriological Techniques / methods*
  • Bacteriological Techniques / trends
  • Humans
  • Microfluidics / methods*
  • Microfluidics / trends
  • Time Factors


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents