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antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST)

A microbiological test to determine whether bacteria are susceptible or resistant to an antibiotic.


Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI)

A US-based organisation that promotes international laboratory standards and guidelines for performing antibiotic susceptibility tests.

clinical breakpoint

A discriminating concentration used in the interpretation of susceptibility tests to define isolates as susceptible or resistant.

control strains

Bacterial isolates of known antibiotic sensitivity profile included in antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST) to ensure that the test is performed correctly.


doubling dilutions

A series of dilutions made so that the concentration of the antibiotic is reduced by one half for each dilution step made.


epidemiological cut-off (ECOFF)

An agreed concentration of antibiotic that defines a wild type microorganism. The ECOFF reflects the ability to detect resistance mechanisms that may or may not be clinically significant in a susceptibility test.

European Committee on Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing (EUCAST)

A Europe-based organisation that promotes international laboratory standards and guidelines for performing antibiotic susceptibility tests.


genotypic methods

Methods based on the detection of genes.

Gold Standard

The best possible test for a given set of conditions.


increased antibiotic exposure (I)

A category of isolates with a minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) in the intermediate zone between definite susceptibility and definite resistance to an antibiotic – as defined by EUCAST.


The microorganism suspension used to inoculate (or infect) something.

International Standards Organisation (ISO)

An international body that has developed international quality standards for microbiological laboratories.


Kirby-Bauer method

The most commonly used disk diffusion method for antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST).


McFarland standards

Reference standards that are used to adjust and standardise the turbidity of a bacterial suspension.

minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC)

The lowest concentration of antimicrobial that kills a microorganism.

minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC)

The lowest concentration of an antimicrobial agent that inhibits the visible growth of a microorganism.


One Health

A concept that recognises the interdependency of human health and animal health, and the ecosystems in which they evolve.



The study of the biochemical and physiological effects of a drug on an organism.


The study of drug absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion.

phenotypic methods

Methods that rely on observable characteristics of the strain being tested.


quality procedures

Activities and processes that identify and minimise errors and ensure laboratory quality. Examples include quality control (QC), quality assurance (QA) and quality management system (QMS).


resistance (R)

A category of isolates with a minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) higher than the clinical breakpoint for a given antibiotic – as defined by EUCAST


standard operating procedures (SOPs)

A document that details how routine laboratory processes and procedures should be performed.

susceptible (S)

A category of isolates considered susceptible to antibiotic treatment following a standard dosing regimen – as defined by EUCAST.



A measure of how well light passes through a liquid. Light is scattered by particles in liquid, making them appear cloudy or turbid. Turbidity can be used to measure bacterial cell density. Samples with a high cell density will appear more turbid than those with a low cell density.


zone of inhibition

The clear region around a disk impregnated with antimicrobial in a disk diffusion test. It indicates that the isolate being tested is susceptible to the antimicrobial.

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