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Sorcerer Colony Counter


Instant automatic plate counter for GLP laboratories

  • Automatic separation of overlapping colonies
  • Image Editor for excluding contaminated areas
  • Powerful data processing
  • Application adaptable (e.g. MLA, Ames or SBA)
  • Auditing and user control
  • Detects transparent or opaque colonies on a range of media
  • Regulatory compliance with GLP & FDA 21 CFR
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The combination of sophisticated image processing and a wide range of plate lighting options make Sorcerer an excellent and adaptable choice for your colony counting needs. Sorcerer is GLP and FDA 21 CFR part 11 compliant and has been validated by industry in laboratories worldwide.


“We’re very thankful for Sorcerer Colony Counter! I think with the amount of use it’s had over the past year, I’d have been throttled a long time ago if they’d had to do it all manually!” Team leader, Biotech Company, UK


How it works

Fast, accurate, automatic plate counting

Sorcerer uses a high quality industrial camera to relay a live digital video image to the computer screen. At the press of a button, Sorcerer instantly counts all the colonies on your plate and transfers the data to an Excel workbook.

Configure it your way

Sorcerer comes with a choice of viewing stands and camera mounting options so that almost any sample type can be analysed by the system, including those on petri-dishes, microscope slides or culture plates.

Different software configurations can be optimised for each application, e.g. Ames, MLA, OPKA etc. Each configuration includes system settings such as type of illumination, detection sensitivity and object classification. Sorcerer can automatically separate touching colonies and can classify or remove objects by size or shape, helping ensure only the objects you want to evaluate are identified.

Effortless data processing

Sorcerer’s Excel Live Link lets you transfer data and run Excel macros with every measurement. Tables and graphs can be updated automatically in real time following each measurement. You can even trigger measurements from within an Excel workbook.

Data can also be transferred directly to Oracle database tables for increased data security or for further processing and import into Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS).

GLP compliance

You work to GLP, and so does Sorcerer Colony Counter. The system has all the features you need to comply with GLP guidelines and the FDA 21 CFR part 11 rule on electronic records and electronic signatures including user access permissions and audit trails detailing all actions taken within the system.

Reasons to buy

Reputation based on performance

Sorcerer has a long-established international user base that includes many of the world’s top pharmaceutical and research organisations. It is used for a wide range of applications in industry and research including regulatory Ames and MLA assays.

Significant improvements in productivity are delivered through instantaneous plate counting and improved reliability of results. Sorcerer links to Excel for real-time updates of data tables and graphs. Barcode readers can be used for automatic sample identification and to remove the possibility of human error.

Sorcerer has proven itself to be fast, accurate and able to handle adversity. The system can automatically separate touching colonies and can classify or remove objects by size or shape, helping ensure only the objects you want to evaluate are identified.

Trustworthy Data

Sorcerer was developed with reference to a wide range of regulatory guidelines and is designed to be fully compliant with Good Laboratory Practice standards as set down by the OECD.

Sorcerer has been comprehensively tested and validated in accordance with our Quality Management System which is approved to ISO 9001:2008 incorporating ISO 90003. All project documentation including evidence of testing is provided with the system.

Regulatory Compliance

All actions which are carried out within Sorcerer, such as creating, editing and deleting data, are recorded within an audit trail. Original data are never obscured; where a data change is made, the old and new values are visible along with any reasons given for the change.

If you are conducting regulatory Ames tests in your laboratory, Ames Study Manager will guide you through the entire Ames study process from study design and plate counting to reporting, statistics, historical controls and archiving.

Flexible use for multiple applications

Sorcerer Colony Counter can be used for a number of applications within one lab. Using different system configurations, you can control how Sorcerer detects objects and how data is handled and reported.

Supported by the experts

When you purchase Sorcerer Colony Counter, you will receive a comprehensive support package including software updates and unlimited support over phone, email and via screen sharing tools. We will help you install and configure your system and provide training and validation assistance to ensure that you get the best from Sorcerer.

Regulatory compliance

Audit trails and GLP

Sorcerer Colony Counter is designed to conform to international GLPs and other regulatory requirements. Every action taken within the program can be used to prompt a user to give a reason for a change (e.g. when editing or deleting a measurement), or to force the user to apply unique electronic signatures to confirm their identity (e.g. when saving data).

The audit trail records every action taken within the program including all data. Where changes to data are made, the original and new values are recorded. The audit trail is encoded, so that only users with the correct permissions can view it.

User access and 21 CFR compliance

Combining Sorcerer Colony Counter with our user access management program, System Access Manager, strengthens your case for compliance by managing and maintaining user access in line with the FDA 21 CFR part 11 rule on Electronic Records and Electronic Signatures.

Individual users are assigned unique user IDs and granted a choice of access levels to Sorcerer Colony Counter. The system manages user access via a wide range of password rules including expiry, length, use of characters and numbers and more.

IQ, OQ and PQ

We are on hand to help with all your regulatory compliance documentation needs. We provide IQ, OQ and PQ documents along with all of our own project, testing and validation documentation.

Ames study management and regulatory testing

Sorcerer Colony Counter connects seamlessly to Ames Study Manager for those running regulatory Ames studies. Ames Study Manager integrates all your data acquisition, reporting and management needs into one software package.

Ames Study Manager is found in laboratories across the globe and has an excellent reputation for increasing productivity whilst improving compliance with GLP regulations and requirements.

Technical specification

Video image capture

Monochrome CCD FireWire camera for macro & microscopic imaging

Camera Resolution

1392 x 1040 pixels

Analysis speed

Typically ~0.1 seconds per measurement

Video invert

For objects darker or lighter than background.


Straight threshold or Matrix detection with compensation for uneven backgrounds

Measurement frames

Circular & rectangular, variable in size and position. User-drawn irregular include and exclude frames.

Feature measurements

Position, Area, Filled Area, Perimeter, Longest Dimension, Fibre Length, Fibre Width, Axial Ratio, X Feret, Y Feret, 45 Feret, 135 Feret, Equivalent Diameter, Circularity, Mean Grey Level, Equivalent Black Area (EBA)

Image editing

Cut, join, include, exclude, dilate, erode and fill.


Feature measurement parameters can be used as include/exclude filters singularly or in combination.

Image Display

Live or frozen image of sample on screen with optional colour coding of detected objects. Click-and-measure facility to measure an individual object. Count flags on separated objects. 100%, 50% and 25% zoom.

Image Processing

Binary remove, erode, dilate, separate and hole fill. Matrix shade compensation.


Multiple calibration factors can be saved for different microscope objectives and lenses.

Macro Builder

Simple to use editor to create measurement macros for specific tasks. No programming skills are required.

Size classification tables

Defined by the supervisor, up to 50 classes in any progression and on any parameter. Unlimited number of tables can be saved for routine use.

Data handling

Configurable results table including derived parameters displayed on screen. Data transfer directly to Microsoft Excel. Template for Field, Feature, Histogram, PSA Summary, User Defined, CSV and output tables Measurements can be made either from Sorcerer or Excel. Direct transfer of data to an Oracle database.


Multiple configurations can be saved for different applications e.g. PSA, Colony Counting, UDS, SBA, OPA and antibiotic assays.

Image capture

Images can be saved and retrieved as Windows Bitmap files, high-bit-depth images or as jpegs with or without overlays. Auto image save for each measurement.

Session headings

Configurable data entry points against each session (e.g. Study ID, Compound). Input masks to validate entries.

Audit Trails

Encoded audit trail files automatically record all system activity including settings, measurement data and edits. Can prompt user to enter reason for edits, deletes. Audit data can also be sent direct to Oracle databases.

User levels

Supervisor, Advanced user and User access levels User administration programs. Additional locks on individual menus and menu items.

Electronic signatures and records

Links to System Access Manager for total compliance with the FDA 21 CFR Part 11 rule on electronic signatures and electronic records.

Recommended minimum configuration for Sorcerer

  • Microsoft Windows XP (32-bit) or 7 (32- or 64-bit).
  • Microsoft Office 2002 or later.
  • Oracle 10g or 11g if you intend to use a database.
  • One free FireWire port, or one free PCIe slot for FireWire board.
  • Two monitors, one with a resolution of 1920×1200 or higher.

Published papers

Sorcerer is used by research institutes and other organisations all over the world for cutting-edge research into a wide range of applications. Below is just a small selection of white papers published using the Sorcerer colony counter to analyse samples.

Toxicological characterization of diesel engine emissions using biodiesel and a closed soot filter
(2011) I.M. Kooter et al, Atmospheric Environment 45(8):1574-1580

Comprehensive assessment of the photomutagenicity, photogenotoxicity and photo(cyto)toxicity of azulene
(2011) M. Struwe et al, Mut. Res. 31(16):2714-21

Proteomic profiling of human colon cancer cells treated with the histone deacetylase inhibitor belinostat.
(2010) H.C. Beck et al, Electrophoresis 31(16):2714-21

Safety assessment of EPA-rich triglyceride oil produced from yeast: Genotoxicity and 28-day oral toxicity in rats
(2010) L. Belcher et al, Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 59(1):53-63

Synthesis and Antitumor Effect in Vitro and in Vivo of Substituted 1,3-Dihydroindole-2-ones
(2010) M.K. Christensen et al, J. Med. Chem. 53(19):7140-7145

Critical Roles of Complement and Antibodies in Host Defense Mechanisms against Neisseria meningitidis as Revealed by Human Complement Genetic Deficiencies
(2010) B.C. Hellerud et al, Am. Soc. Microb. 78(2):802-809

Selection and Characterization of Hepatitis C Virus Replicons Dually Resistant to the Polymerase and Protease Inhibitors HCV-796 and Boceprevir (SCH 503034)
(2009) M. Flint et al, Antim. Agents & Chemo. 53(2):401-411

Comparison of methods to test antibiotic combinations against heterogeneous populations of multiresistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa from patients with acute infective exacerbations in cystic fibrosis.
(2009) J. Foweraker et al, Antimicrob Agents Chemother 53(1):4809-4815

Non-coplanar 2,2\’,3,3\’,4,4\’,5,5\’,6,6\’-decachlorobiphenyl (PCB 209) did not induce cytochrome P450 enzyme activities in primary cultured rat hepatocytes, was not genotoxic, and did not exhibit endocrine-modulating activities
(2009) X. Han et al, Toxicology 255(3):177-186

Mutagenicity studies with N-acetyl-l-aspartic acid
(2009) S. Karaman et al, Food and Chemical Toxicology 47(8):1936-1940

Survey, laboratory and statistical methods for the BSAC Resistance Surveillance Programmes
(2008) R. Reynolds et al, J. Antim. Chemo. 62(2):15-28

Immunogenicity of Fractional Doses of Tetravalent A/C/Y/W135 Meningococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine: Results from a Randomized Non-Inferiority Controlled Trial in Uganda
(2008) P.J. Guerin et al, PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2(12):342

Lysophosphatidic acid receptor subtype-specific regulation of human oral fibroblast healing responses
(2008) D.R. Cerutis et al, FASEB J. 22(1):805-810

Evaluation of the genotoxic potential of the natural neurotoxin Tetrodotoxin (TTX) in a battery of in vitro and in vivo genotoxicity assays
(2007) A. Guzmán et al, Mut. Res. 634(1-2):14-24

In vitro models of TGF-beta-induced fibrosis suitable for high-throughput screening of antifibrotic agents
(2007) Q. Xu et al, Am. J. Physiol. 293(1):14-24

Blood pressure cuffs: friend or foe
(2007) N. Walker et al, J. Hosp. Infect. 63(2):167-169

Immunogenicity and Safety of a Combination of Two Serogroup B Meningococcal Outer Membrane Vesicle Vaccines
(2007) S. Sandbu et al, Clin. Vacc. Immun. 14(9):1062-1069

Constitutively active receptor tyrosine kinases as oncogenes in preclinical models for cancer therapeutics
(2006) K.A. Kellar et al, Mol. Cancer Ther. 5(6):1571

Antioxidant and antigenotoxic activities of Angelica keiskei, Oenanthe javanica and Brassica oleracea in the Salmonella mutagenicity assay and in HCT116 human colon cancer cells 
(2006) D. Kwon et al, BioFactors 26(4):231-244

Validation of the serum bactericidal assay for measurement of functional antibodies against group B meningococci associated with vaccine trials
(2005) D. Martin et al, Vaccine 23(17-18):2218-2221

Malignant transformation of wild-type but not plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 gene-deficient fibroblasts decreases cellular sensitivity to chemotherapy-mediated apoptosis
(2005) U. Lademann et al, Euro. J. Cancer 41(7):1095-1100

Phenotypic variability of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in sputa from patients with acute infective exacerbation of cystic fibrosis and its impact on the validity of antimicrobial susceptibility testing
(2005) J.E. Foweraker et al, Antim. Chemo. 55(6):921-927

Approach to Validating an Opsonophagocytic Assay for Streptococcus pneumoniae
(2005) B.T. Hu et al, Clin. Diag. Lab. Imm. 12(2):287-295

TIMP-1 gene deficiency increases tumour cell sensitivity to chemotherapy-induced apoptosis
(2005) M.L. Davidsen et al, Brit. J. Cancer 55(6):921-927

Case studies

Sorcerer Colony Counter in the development of meningitis vaccines

The UK Health Protection Agency (HPA) are among several vaccine development units around the world who choose to use Sorcerer Colony Counter for conducting the Serum Bacteriocidal Assay. Read how the HPA use Sorcerer to help fight meningitis.

Sorcerer Colony Counter used to assess drinking water quality

Health, safety & environmental consultancy Assurity Consulting has for over 25 years “monitored the health of buildings” through independent workplace audits, especially covering indoor air and water quality. Read how the Assurity Consulting use Sorcerer to assess drinking water quality.

Sorcerer Colony Counter and cancer chemoprevention using the Ames test

Established in April 2002, the Cancer Chemoprotection Program (CCP) Core Laboratory at the Linus Pauling Institute (LPI) primarily provides genetic toxicology testing services to the institute’s research scientists. Read how LPI used Sorcerer to research the anti-genotoxic effects of spearmint tea.


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