At Produlab Pharma we manufacture veterinary antibiotics and other veterinary pharmaceuticals. In 2016, we installed a Synbiosis ProcScan system and statistical analysis software mainly to improve the data integrity of our antibiotic sensitivity testing.

We assessed two automated zone analysers but chose the Synbiosis ProcScan because the system is the only one that can measure inhibition zones in a 6 x 6 grid on large antibiotic susceptibility plates and records the raw plate images to provide hard evidence for clients or regulators to look at. We like using the ProcScan because the system not only saves us time but ensures the quality and traceability of our data.

Dave van Reusel, Microbiologist, Produlab Pharma, The Netherlands

Our group tests the potency of clinical and pre-clinical meningococcal vaccines by counting around 60-120 tiny colonies per streak in six streaks on each plate post SBA assay. This is time consuming and difficult to do manually when we have more than 100 agar plates to count, which is why we decided to test the ProtoCOL 3. We were so impressed by how easy it is to use that we decided to buy the system.

The service and support we had from Synbiosis was excellent and everything was delivered on time and installed well. Using the ProtoCOL 3 has totally changed the way we work, we can now count around 300 agar plates per day, as well as generate results on vaccine potency, something which would have taken us a week to do manually. We’re extremely pleased to have the ProtoCOL 3 in our laboratory.

Dr Christina Dold, Research Assistant, Oxford Vaccine Group, Oxford University, Oxford, UK

We are a contract microbiological testing laboratory and regularly test the sensitivity of new antibiotics using inhibition zone measurements in a 5 + 1 assay. We used to measure zones manually but it was taking too long to read each plate and we decided to assess automated inhibition zone measurement equipment.

We tested three systems and in terms of value for money and performance the ProtoCOL 3 inhibition zone measurement system came out in front, so we installed the ProtoCOL 3 and Synbiosis’s statistical analysis software in 2013. Using the ProtoCOL 3 and statistical analysis software, we can now analyse over 100 inhibition zones and have the potency results in the time it took us to manually measure just 25 zones on a square plate. The ProtoCOL 3 has really improved our throughput.

Microbiologist, Contract Testing Laboratory, UK

We are developing meningitis vaccines against Neisseria meningitidis and have to use the Serum Bactericidal Assay (SBA) to establish efficacy. We are counting around 800 – 1200 colonies on 70 SBA plates every week so to save time and maintain consistency of data we installed a ProtoCOL 3* automated colony counter in 2012.

Many of our scientists are not microbiologists but immunobiologists and they find the ProtoCOL 3 SBA counting software is straightforward to use. Often our colonies are very close together or touching and the ProtoCOL 3 software can easily distinguish them. We are very pleased with the way the ProtoCOL 3 peforms and we intend to continue using the system in future for SBA analysis, as well as for more challenging colony counting applications.

* ImmBio was supported in this purchase by a research and development grant from the Technology Strategy Board as part of the government-backed Biomedical Catalyst. Grant number 1204_BCF_CDS_R1 21601-155139 101360

Claire Entwisle, Head of Laboratory, ImmBio, Cambridge, UK

We routinely run OPAs because we are the WHO reference laboratory and provide testing for many groups. We have been using the ProtoCOL HR for this work for several years but have recently reached colony counting capacity in our lab. To maintain consistency, which is important in a validated assay, we assessed current automated colony counting technology and in 2012 chose the latest ProtoCOL 3 system because the system is small and its counting performance is faster than the ProtoCOL HR.

We have found the support we have had from the Synbiosis team to help us make the transition to another automated colony counter was helpful so the ProtoCOL 3 was the right choice to help us increase our throughput in vaccine testing.

Lucy Cowell, Laboratory Technician, Immunology Unit, UCL Institute of Child Health, London

We bought an aCOLade colony counter for our lab in 2011 because we needed a reliable, simple to use, anti-glare manual colony counter. We are now counting colonies on around 50 plates every day of all sorts of different bacterial and fungal colonies with aCOLade and have found aCOLade is sensitive, has a nice viewing magnifying glass and best of all we don’t have any reflection problems when counting white colonies on TVC plates.

When we needed help the Synbiosis team was very good. We know we can call to ask them anything to do with the aCOLade and they will respond very quickly. The aCOLade is brilliant and we’ll definitely re-order an aCOLade from Synbiosis when we need another colony counter.

Val Burton, Laboratory Supervisor, Pukka Pies, Leicester, UK

We’ve had our ProtoCOL at the Robert Mondavi Institute since 2010 and the system is saving us so much time and a huge amount of manual work when counting colonies cultured from the food we’re testing in our field trials.

We look for Salmonella and E.coli 0157 and often use different chromogenic media to count blue, purple, white or even black colonies on many different colored background. Unlike some systems, the ProtoCOL can recognize and count all these colony types with ease. We also use spiral plates, gridded filters and pour plates, yet the ProtoCOL system can distinguish very small colonies and also grid lines from colonies. We can directly export results to Excel which saves us time with rekeying results and our undergrads like the system as it is not complicated to use. We’re very happy we chose a ProtoCOL for our research.

Dr Anne-Laure Moyne, Staff Research Associate, Robert Mondavi Institute, University of California, Davis, CA, USA

At Jamjoom Pharma we manufacture antibiotic, pharmaceutical and nutraceutical products. In 2010, we installed a Synbiosis ProtoCOL to help speed up the colony counting and antibiotic sensitivity testing in our quality control processes. The technical people at Synbiosis were very helpful because they advised us how to set up the ProtoCOL system to operate to comply with GMP.

We chose the ProtoCOL because the system has the latest plate imaging technology and the way the software has been written means it is easy to obtain and store an image of each plate and the count data together. The fact ProtoCOL does this, made the ProtoCOL stand out as the right system for us.

Dr Aamer Khatri, Senior Manager, QC, Jamjoom Pharma, Saudi Arabia

We use yeast as a model system for studying cellular changes in colon cancer. We spent a lot of time counting thousands of yeast colonies, a task which our trained staff found to be very laborious and prone to error. We tried some image analysis software to automate the process but it just could not accurately discriminate different colonies and was tedious to use. We were shown a ProtoCOL by a colleague and because the ProtoCOL has so much utility, yet is priced so that an academic lab can afford it; in 2009 we purchased one.

We love our ProtoCOL as it can count plates with over 2000 colonies on them, some as small as a pencil point, and it can even segregate counts according to colony size or color, which is an amazingly useful feature. ProtoCOL indicates every colony it has counted with a dot, which means we are always in full control of the final count and it saves the images automatically so we can look at them again if we need to. We didn’t think a colony counter this good existed, but it does and now we wouldn’t be without our ProtoCOL.

Professor Gray Crouse, Professor of Biology, Department of Biology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

We wanted to standardise our test for the activity of bacteriocides in food and this is why in 2008 after reviewing several automated systems we chose to install the AutoZONE automated zone measurement system.

The AutoZONE is great because it can cope with different agar thicknesses and saves us time with keying in, as the system automatically transfers results to Excel. Overall, we are very pleased with the performance of the AutoZONE and with the support we have had from Synbiosis

Malene Svejstrup, Application Scientist, Food Protection, Danisco, Denmark

In 2001, we developed a method to assess the mutagenicity of the gaseous substances using an Ames Test. To count the bacteria, we had an original ProtoCOL system with a black and white camera, which gave excellent results and is still in routine use.

When we started Cultex in 2007 to offer this method commercially, we had no hesitation in installing a ProtoCOL because it is a robust system that produces accurate results time after time. Today our ProtoCOL provides good reproducible data – exactly what we need to confidently provide our clients with sound predictions about substance genotoxicity.

Professor Michaela Aufderheide, Manager, Cultex Laboratories, Germany

The ProtoCOL automated zone sizing system came with good IQ and OQ documentation and our local Synbiosis agent, Besha Analitika was very helpful with the set up. This meant we installed and validated the ProtoCOL’s performance for use in our GMP vaccine facility in time to test our seasonal flu vaccine batch.

Using the ProtoCOL we measured thousands of zones on serial radial immunodiffusion plates in much less time than we did in 2007, which really helped us release our flu vaccine to market sooner.


Mrs lin Susanti, Head of Quality Control, Bio Farma, Bandung, Indonesia

We have used the ProtoCOL automated colony counter since 2004 for food microbiology education and research and have been very happy with its performance. The ProtoCOL is an excellent tool for our food hygiene students because with minimal training, they can easily understand how to use the system and can rapidly obtain accurate results from complex counts of different bacteria isolated from food samples such as shellfish, sausages and beef burgers.

Edmund Slaine, Scientific Officer, College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise, Northern Ireland

We are carrying out a trial to track the spread of Carbapenem-Resistant superbugs in the community after patients carrying the bacteria leave hospital. This generates a large number of different plate types and coloured colonies to analyse. We needed to increase our accuracy and throughput for this trial and decided automation was the way forward, so we installed a ProtoCOL 3 in 2015.

We chose the ProtoCOL 3 because it can recognise different coloured colonies and distinguish one type of bacteria from another by colony colour, as well as calculate colony forming units/ml for us. Using the ProtoCOL 3 has taken the strain out of colony counting and given us more confidence in the accuracy of our results.

Research Laboratory Manager, London Hospital, London, UK