There are three key benefits that molecular methods can offer, in contrast to traditional culture methods:
- Improved sensitivity of detection
- Improved specificity of identification
- Reduced turnaround time
Improved sensitivity of detection
Successful cultivation or detection of an organism depends on many factors, including the:
- Ability of the organism to survive transport
- Fastidious nature of the organism/its ability to grow in available culture media/systems
- Number of organisms present in a specimen
- Ability of a staining/culture system to visualize/recover low numbers of organisms
- Sensitivity of non-culture (antigen detection) methods
Organisms that have been shown to be very labile are difficult to cultivate even when they are present in significant numbers. The immediacy of transport, plating, and incubation are critical factors that frequently cannot be controlled in a positive direction.
Even under the ideal transport conditions, some organisms may require culture media and conditions that are not routinely available in every laboratory, which reduces the likelihood of successful cultivation.