Detection of microorganisms

At Fraunhofer IGB, we apply different standardized microbiological detection and assessment methods for the detection of microorganisms.

According to the object of investigation (room air, surfaces, process media/water) different methods of sampling are applied. The samples are then processed and cultivated, or suitable test organisms are selected for the evaluation of surfaces and the colonization of components.

Various test methods are available at Fraunhofer IGB, which are used or combined with each other depending on the question that needs to be answered. In addition to standardized conventional methods, we have developed our own reproducible microbiological detection and evaluation methods and adapted them to different problems.

The main focus is on the analysis of treated water for microbial germs for the assessment of drinking water quality and the development of new measuring methods for the detection of microorganisms in different liquids.  

Based on microbiology, process engineering and/or molecular biological working methods, we also develop and establish test procedures for customer-specific issues. This also includes the construction of technical test setups for application-oriented investigations and questions.

Investigation of the microbiological quality of water

According to the World Health Organization, 3.4 million people die every year from diseases caused by contaminated water. Numerous infectious diseases can be transmitted via drinking water. The microbiological quality of water also plays a role here, for example in the introduction of new technologies for water treatment.

At Fraunhofer IGB, we check hygienically relevant parameters of water quality and filtration processes under defined conditions and adapt the detection methods for germs to special conditions if required.


Applied methods and procedures for assessing the hygienic status

  • Measurement of cell number (Quantification of colony forming units)
  • Identification of microorganisms (Isolation and DNA barcoding)
  • ATP hygiene monitoring

Standard detection methods

Standard procedures applied at IGB

  • Japanese Industrial Standard JIS 2801
  • ASTM standards (ASTM 21-09)
  • American Military Standard Mil-Std-810F
  • Examination according to DIN EN ISO 22196, ISO 20743, ISO 27447 and ISO 18593


Extended services: Further procedures

Practice has shown that these standard procedures do not always meet the requirements of research and development. Our detection services spectrum has therefore been extended:

  • Identification of unknown microbial contaminants in production steps and environmental samples.
  • Various flow cell models are available to take into account the influence of flow properties during the investigations.
  • Screening tests for antimicrobially active substances (agar diffusion test)
  • Application-oriented tests and open-air tests adapted for numerous different applications.

Flow cell for dynamic measurements

At Fraunhofer IGB, we offer you the possibility of setting up and testing individual test procedures / test environments as desired or required. The test procedures we developed in the past were based on standard measurement methods, which were further developed and individually adapted.

An example for the development of own procedures and components is the construction of a flow cell for the dynamic measurement of several samples. It is used, for example, to test the microbial growth on dental material and catheters. Various microorganisms can be used for this purpose.

Reference projects

Demo-medVer – Decentralized mobile medical care with autonomous test platforms

The risk of further rapid spread of COVID-19 is particularly high in many developing and emerging countries due to inadequate hygienic conditions. Fraunhofer researchers are developing autonomous, fully and partially mobile platforms for testing for SARS-CoV-2 suitable for slums, refugee camps, urban and rural areas.


Duration: September 2020 – August 2021

PHOIBE – Laser-optical detection of pathogens and toxins to protect drinking water from biological threats and pandemics

The joint project Phoibe aims at the realization of a modularly constructed functional demonstrator for the laboratory-independent automated in-line analysis of contaminated water. The goal is to identify bacterial and toxins by means of laser spectroscopy at high sensitivity without prior sample preparation in a lab.


Duration: October 2015 – September 2018