Analytical methods applied in diagnostic microbiology laboratories are usually performed manually and have several drawbacks, the long time-to-results (48–72 h) being the major one. Rapid detection methods may overcome the disadvantages of traditional microbiological methods and achieve fast detection, which will help preventing the spread of waterborne pathogens and outbreaks of waterborne diseases. The objective of the MICROALARM project is to validate a platform for monitoring the quantification of the total bacteria present in water samples.


The MICROALARM system integrates a microfluidic cartridge where the microorganisms from the sample are labelled to facilitate the detection and measurement by a fluorescence sensor. The prototype system has been validated according to ISO 16140-2 : 2016 in the laboratory through the comparison with conventional (culture isolation) and alternative methods (flow cytometry) to determine whether the method is suitable for quantifying microorganisms in water samples.


The system will be capable of processing, labelling and quantifying automatically the total bacteria of the water sample using a membrane-permeable fluorescence marker. The system has been validated at the laboratory scale using a wide range of water matrices, then installed and validated in different facilities with satisfactory results.


The MICROALARM system is designed to be portable, thus suitable for on-site applications. It will be a low-cost solution for rapid microbiological analysis. The system will avoid water sampling and transport to the laboratory while enabling on-site quantification of the total bacteria in a reduced timeframe for early decision-making.

  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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