Microbial populations and systems are not static—they are dynamic and constantly responding to changes in their environment. The number of cells in a microbial community can change significantly over time for any multitude of reasons within different microbe groups (e.g. bacterial, fungal, viral), and most importantly in ways that can have dramatic impacts on the analysis and interpretation of these microbial ecosystems. Measuring the absolute number of cells from one environmental condition to the next environment condition, or from one sample to another sample, is a fundamentally different measurement than the existing relative percentage measurement which makes broad assumptions about the magnitude of cells present in a microbial community.
At Ascus we have pioneered the incorporation of absolute cell counts into microbial community analysis as a means to more directly measure the overall system and how it shifts in response to random or induced perturbations.