Flow cytometry (abbreviated: FCM) is a technique for counting and examining microscopic particles, such as cells and chromosomes, by suspending them in a stream of fluid and passing them by an electronic detection apparatus.
It allows simultaneous multiparametric analysis of the physical and/or chemical characteristics of up to thousands of particles per second.
Flow cytometry is routinely used in the diagnosis of health disorders, especially blood cancers, but has many other applications in both research and clinical practice.
A common variation is to physically sort particles based on their properties, so as to purify populations of interest.
The technology has applications in a number of fields, including
molecular biology, pathology, immunology, plant biology and marine
It has broad application in medicine (especially in
transplantation, hematology, tumor immunology and chemotherapy, genetics
and sperm sorting for sex preselection).
In marine biology, the
auto-fluorescent properties of photosynthetic plankton can be exploited
by flow cytometry in order to characterise abundance and community
In protein engineering, flow cytometry is used in conjunction
with yeast display and bacterial display to identify cell
surface-displayed protein variants with desired properties.
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Last Updated: Feb 1, 2011