Susceptibility testing: inoculum size dependency of inhibition using the Colworth MIC technique


R.J.W. Lambert, Microbiology, Unilever Research, Colworth, Sharnbrook MK 44 1LQ, UK (e-mail:


The minimum inhibitory concentration, MIC, is an accepted and well used criterion for measuring the susceptibility of organisms to inhibitors. Many factors influence the MIC value obtained, including temperature, inoculum size and type of organism. A modification of the method developed in this laboratory to obtain inhibition profiles of antimicrobials was used to examine the effect of inoculum size on the degree of inhibition observed with respect to inhibitor concentration. The data obtained enabled the production of an empirical model of inhibition, based on a Gompertz function, relating the level of growth observed to both the inoculum size and concentration of the inhibitor. The inoculum size dependencies of phenethyl alcohol, phenoxyethanol, p-chloro-m-cresol, trichloro-phenol, thymol and dodecyltrimethylammmonium bromide against Staphylococcus aureus were obtained.