Colony-forming unit

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A measure of viable cells in which a colony represents an aggregate of cells derived from a single progenitor cell.


CFU is used to determine the number of viable bacterial cells in a sample per mL. Hence, it tells the degree of contamination in samples of water, vegetables, soil or fruits, or the magnitude of the infection in humans and animals.

It is different from the direct microscopic counts that include both dead and living cells.

Acronym: CFU.