Seen any good films recently?

As the QuickFISH™ system continues to build a formidable reputation as the method of choice for the rapid identification of pathogens from blood cultures, the versatile PNA-FISH® technology on which it is based continues to demonstrate its flexibility and utility. Although PNA-FISH has been superseded by QuickFISH for diagnostic use with blood cultures, it is still ideally suited to a number of research applications in the field of medical microbiology, particularly three dimensional visualisation of microorganisms in biofilms.

Biofilms have been shown to have major significance in a number of infections and related conditions of medical and public health interest. These include;

  • endocarditis (heart valve tissue)
  • sinusitis (nasal polyps and turbinate mucosa)
  • cystic fibrosis (airway and lung tissue)
  • pneumonia (lung tissue)
  • device related infections, catheter sections, and indwelling devices
  • tooth decay (dental plaque)
  • water quality (faecal bacteria in water courses)
  • chronic wounds (wound infections and non-healing)


The physiology and pathogenic potential of micro-organisms living as part of a community of organisms in biofilms associated with these have, unsurprisingly, developed increasing concern and interest and are attracting significant attention among medical microbiologists as a target for vigorous research. A fuller understanding of biofilm formation and its role in infectious processes is essential to permit the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for treating critical infections.

Because PNA-FISH provides whole cell visualisation of bacteria and fungi, the technology is ideally suited for understanding the interaction between micro-organisms in complex biofilms. PNA-FISH is ideal for

  • quantification of micro-organisms
  • genus and species identification
  • analysis of three dimensional spatial distribution of cells
  • visualisation of a microbial community


This article was published previously in Alpha Laboratories’ Leading Edge Newsletter – Summer 2014.

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