The estimation of microbial biomass

Biosensors. 1985;1(1):17-84. doi: 10.1016/0265-928x(85)85005-7.


Methods that have been used to estimate the content, and in some cases the nature, of the microbial biomass in a sample are reviewed. The methods may be categorised in terms of their principle (physical, chemical, biological or mathematical/computational), their speed (real-time or otherwise) and the amount of automation/expense involved. For sparse populations, where the output signal is to be enhanced by growth of the organisms, physical, chemical and biological approaches may be of equal merit, whilst in systems, such as laboratory and industrial fermentations, in which the microbial biomass content is high, physical methods (alone) can permit the real-time estimation of microbial biomass.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / analysis
  • Bacteria / growth & development*
  • Cell Extracts
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Fermentation
  • Gases / analysis
  • Industrial Microbiology
  • Luminescent Measurements
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Microbiological Techniques / instrumentation*
  • Microscopy
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Nephelometry and Turbidimetry
  • Photometry
  • Radiometry / methods


  • Cell Extracts
  • Gases