Microbiology testing services

We offer a range of microbiology testing services from our well-equipped laboratories in Aberdeen.

Total viable counts - bacteria and fungi

Total viable counts give a general indication of numbers of bacteria present in a sample. This technique can be a good starting point for any investigation into suspected microbiological contamination within industrial settings, and can also be used to monitor responses to any treatment subsequently undertaken.

Culture-based enumeration of specific groups of bacteria

If you want information on the numbers of specific groups of bacteria within a sample, rather than an estimate of the total number of viable organisms present, we can use culture-base methods with selective media to estimate numbers. For example, we regularly undertake testing to determine numbers of sulphate reducing bacteria, general heterotrophic bacteria and acid producing general heterotrophic bacteria.

We also supply media testing kits if you would like to undertake this kind of testing yourself. We have an extensive media recipe library, so please contact us for information about any other groups of bacteria you are interested in.


If you need to confirm the presence or absence of a group of bacteria in a product, process, effluent or environment, quantify the numbers present, or monitor the population over time, we can use qPCR to achieve this.

qPCR is a molecular biology technique rather than a culture based methodology. In other words, there is no requirement for growth of the microorganisms present in qPCR testing. This means results can be obtained very rapidly, and microbes that do not grow under laboratory conditions will be included in the results.

We can develop customised qPCR assays for specific organisms of interest to individual clients, or undertake assays for a range of commonly requested organisms.

Identification of bacteria and fungi

Our microbial identification services can be used for environmental monitoring or investigating a specific issue. While total viable counts give a general indication of numbers  and whether an issue you are experiencing may be due to microbial contamination, identifying the species present can be a valuable next step in investigating the source of the problem, determining remediation steps and monitoring for recurrence of the same issues in future.

Our microbial identification services use sequencing-based methods. This approach can identify viable and non-viable organisms as well as those with complex growth requirements and Gram-variable isolates.

Reporting can be tailored to your requirements.

Microbial community analysis

In some situations, analysis of the whole microbial community may be the most appropriate course of action.

Microbial community analysis uses DNA sequencing information to analyse the whole microbial population from a single sample. It identifies the groups of microorganism present to give a comprehensive picture of the microbial ecosystem. At NCIMB we can undertake microbial community analysis to help customers assess soil health, identify the different populations of microorganisms present during bioremediation processes or in industrial effluents.

Oilfield microbiology service

We offer a specialist oilfield microbiology service to help our customers monitor the microorganisms that are involved in microbially influenced corrosion and oilfield souring. Our consultant microbiologist can advise on the methods available, and interpret results to assess risk. More information is available on our oilfield microbiology page.

Turnaround times

We offer a flexible service with rapid same or next day options on some identification services.

Expert advice

We can advise you on the most appropriate approach for sampling and testing. Please contact us for more information.