The number of bacteria in solution can be readily quantified by using the spread plate technique. In this technique, the sample is appropriately diluted and a small aliquot transferred to an agar plate. The bacteria are then distributed evenly over the surface by a special streaking technique. After colonies are grown, they are counted and the number of bacteria in the original samplecalculated. Streaking in this technique is done using a bent glass rod. 0.1 mL of bacterial suspension is placed in the center of the plate using a sterile pipet. The glass rod is sterilized by first dipping it into a 70% alcohol solution and then passing it quickly through the Bunsen burner flame. The burning alcohol sterilizes the rod at a cooler temperature than holding the rod in the burner flame thus reducing the chance of you burning your fingers. When all the alcohol has burned off and the rod has air-cooled, streak the rod back and forth across the plate working up and down several times. Unlike streaking for isolation, you want to backtrack many times in order to distribute the bacteria as evenly as possible. Turn the plate 90 degrees and repeat the side to side, up and down streaking. Turn the plate 45 degrees and streak a third time. Do not sterilize the glass rod between plate turnings. Cover the plate and wait several minutes before turning it upside down for incubation. [continua]
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