Effect of impact stress on microbial recovery on an agar surface

Appl Environ Microbiol. 1995 Apr;61(4):1232-9. doi: 10.1128/AEM.61.4.1232-1239.1995.


Microbial stress due to the impaction of microorganisms onto an agar collection surface was studied experimentally. The relative recovery rates of aerosolized Pseudomonas fluorescens and Micrococcus luteus were determined as a function of the impaction velocity by using a moving agar slide impactor operating over a flow rate range from 3.8 to 40 liters/min yielding impaction velocities from 24 to 250 m/s. As a reference, the sixth stage of the Andersen Six-Stage Viable Particle Sizing Sampler was used at its operating flow rate of 28.3 liters/min (24 m/s). At a collection efficiency of close to 100% for the agar slide impactor, an increase in sampling flow rate and, therefore, in impaction velocity produced a significant decline in the percentage of microorganisms recovered. Conversely, when the collection efficiency was less than 100%, greater recovery and lower injury rates occurred. The highest relative rate of recovery (approximately 51% for P. fluorescens and approximately 62% for M. luteus) was obtained on the complete (Trypticase soy agar) medium at 40 and 24 m/s (6.4 and 3.8 liters/min), respectively. M. luteus demonstrated less damage than P. fluorescens, suggesting the hardy nature of the gram-positive strain versus that of the gram-negative microorganism. Comparison of results from the agar slide and Andersen impactors at the same sampling velocity showed that recovery and injury due to collection depends not only on the magnitude of the impaction velocity but also on the degree to which the microorganisms may be embedded in the collection medium.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols
  • Agar
  • Air Microbiology*
  • Bacteriological Techniques* / instrumentation
  • Bacteriological Techniques* / statistics & numerical data
  • Colony Count, Microbial / instrumentation
  • Colony Count, Microbial / methods
  • Colony Count, Microbial / statistics & numerical data
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Humans
  • Micrococcus luteus / isolation & purification
  • Pseudomonas fluorescens / isolation & purification
  • Stress, Mechanical


  • Aerosols
  • Agar