Scanlag: High-throughput quantification of colony growth and lag time

Irit Levin-Reisman, Ofer Fridman, Nathalie Q. Balaban

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Growth dynamics are fundamental characteristics of microorganisms. Quantifying growth precisely is an important goal in microbiology. Growth dynamics are affected both by the doubling time of the microorganism and by any delay in growth upon transfer from one condition to another, the lag. The ScanLag method enables the characterization of these two independent properties at the level of colonies originating each from a single cell, generating a two-dimensional distribution of the lag time and of the growth time. In ScanLag, measurement of the time it takes for colonies on conventional nutrient agar plates to be detected is automated on an array of commercial scanners controlled by an in house application. Petri dishes are placed on the scanners, and the application acquires images periodically. Automated analysis of colony growth is then done by an application that returns the appearance time and growth rate of each colony. Other parameters, such as the shape, texture and color of the colony, can be extracted for multidimensional mapping of sub-populations of cells. Finally, the method enables the retrieval of rare variants with specific growth phenotypes for further characterization. The technique could be applied in bacteriology for the identification of long lag that can cause persistence to antibiotics, as well as a general low cost technique for phenotypic screens.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere51456
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number89
StatePublished - 15 Jul 2014


  • Growth delay
  • Growth rate
  • Image analysis
  • Immunology
  • Issue 89
  • Lag
  • Persistence
  • Phenomics
  • Phenotypic screens
  • Rare mutants
  • Resistance
  • Scanners
  • Single cell


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