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Ann Lab Med. 2013 Jan;33(1):14-27. doi: 10.3343/alm.2013.33.1.14. Epub 2012 Dec 17.

Rapid clinical bacteriology and its future impact.

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BioMérieux SA, Unit Microbiology, R&D Microbiology, La Balme Les Grottes, France.


Clinical microbiology has always been a slowly evolving and conservative science. The sub-field of bacteriology has been and still is dominated for over a century by culture-based technologies. The integration of serological and molecular methodologies during the seventies and eighties of the previous century took place relatively slowly and in a cumbersome fashion. When nucleic acid amplification technologies became available in the early nineties, the predicted "revolution" was again slow but in the end a real paradigm shift did take place. Several of the culture-based technologies were successfully replaced by tests aimed at nucleic acid detection. More recently a second revolution occurred. Mass spectrometry was introduced and broadly accepted as a new diagnostic gold standard for microbial species identification. Apparently, the diagnostic landscape is changing, albeit slowly, and the combination of newly identified infectious etiologies and the availability of innovative technologies has now opened new avenues for modernizing clinical microbiology. However, the improvement of microbial antibiotic susceptibility testing is still lagging behind. In this review we aim to sketch the most recent developments in laboratory-based clinical bacteriology and to provide an overview of emerging novel diagnostic approaches.


Antibiogram; Antibiotics; Antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST); DNA testing; Drug resistance; Innovation; Laboratory automation; MALDI-TOF MS

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