Multi-sector Plates

Multi-sector Plate Applications

Multi-sector plates are commonly used in environmental monitoring programmes to assess the quality of the air in pharmaceutical and medical device facilities. By splitting an agar plate into sections, air can be sampled from different areas of a room or at different times of the day on a single plate. This method also allows different volumes of air to be sampled on a single plate so that the number of microorganisms per volume of air can be determined. Multi-sector plates save time and resources and enable easy comparison of environmental conditions.

Figure 1. Example of a multi-sector plate report showing images of the plate before (left) and after (right) analysis in ProtoCOL 3.

What can Synbiosis offer?

The multi-sector software works with both multi-sector and air plate frames and is available as an optional module for the ProtoCOL 3. Colonies as small as 43 µm can be detected based on their contrast against the background/media or based on their colour, shape or size. This allows the multi-sector module to accommodate a wide range of different bacterial morphologies and agar types.

The sensitivity of colony detection can be altered depending on the type of plate being analysed and debris/air bubbles can be removed by enabling the ‘reject small particles’ function. The sophisticated software is also capable of splitting touching colonies, ensuring that counts are accurate even on plates with a high bacterial density.

Dilutions can be entered in the software which produces accurate count/ml results. Accuracy and small particle rejection limits can be adjusted between plates and results can be recorded as ‘zero’ or ‘too numerous to count’ if necessary. Certain functions, such as manual counts and excluded regions are flagged in the audit report for full traceability.

Figure 2. Measure tab in the ProtoCOL 3 software showing adjustment options


All colony count results are automatically transferred into a table for storage in a secure database. The database is password protected and so ensures that batches of results cannot be deleted. Additionally, count editing is recorded with a coded flag next to the revised result. Every detail of the sample including pictures of the plates, system configuration, user details, date and time are recorded in professional reports (Excel, Open Office or PDF). For laboratories that require the highest level of compliance and traceability, the ProtoCOL 3 system comes with a full audit trail, user access levels and LIMS connection.

Synbiosis releases free bi-annual software upgrades which can be easily downloaded from the website. This means that customers have access to any improvements and new features that are added to the software.