Commonly Used Abbreviations in Microbiology

This is the list of commonly used short forms in Microbiology. Some of these abbreviations are very popular and thus obvious while others are gaining more usage lately.

AIDSAcquired immunodeficiency syndromeSevere immune deficiency disease caused by HIV infection of T cells, characterized by opportunistic infections and other complications.
ASRAnalyte specific reagent 
ATCCAmerican Type Culture Collection 
BAP5% Sheep Blood agar plate
BCGBacille Calmette-GuerinAn attenuated strain of Mycobacterium tuberculosis used for immunization
BHIBrain heart infusion
BSCBiological Safety CabinetAlso called biosafety hoods, these are enclosures in which laboratory personnel/researchers can work with relatively dangerous organisms without risk of acquiring or spreading infection caused by them.
BSLBiosafety level
CAMPChristie, Atkins, and Munch-PetersonA diffusible extracellular protein named after Christie, Atkins, and Munch-Peterson that is produced by certain organisms (e.g., Streptococus agalactiae) and acts synergistically with beta lysin of S. aureus to cause enhanced lysis of red blood cells.
CDCCenters for Disease Control and Prevention
CFComplement Fixation 
CFUColony-forming unit 
CHOCChocolate agar
CLSIClinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (formerly NCCLS)
CMICell-mediated immunity 
CNSCentral Nervous System 
CPECytopathic effectAlteration in cell morphology resulting from viral infection on cell culture monolayer.
CSFCerebrospinal fluid 
CtThreshold CycleThe amplification cycle number in which the fluorescent signal rises above the background; is also referred to as the crossing point.
DFADirect fluorescent antibody test 
DICDisseminated intravascular coagulationA disastrous complication of sepsis.
DNADeoxyribonucleic acidThe lipoprotein molecule that contains the genetic code for most living things.
EhOxidation-reduction potential 
EIAEnzyme immunoassay
ELISAEnzyme-linked immunosorbent assayAn immunological assay that uses enzymes conjugated with antibodies to produce a visible endpoint.
EMBEosin-methylene blueAn agar
FTA-ABSFluorescent treponemal antigen-antibody absorption testIndirect fluorescent antibody stain that is used to detect antibodies directed against whole-cell antigens of Treponema pallidum.
FUOFever of unknown origin 
GLCGas-liquid chromatographyA method for separating substances by allowing their volatile phase to flow through a heated column with a carrier gas and measuring the time required to detect their presence at a distal end of the column.
HAIHemagglutination Inhibition 
HAIHospital-acquired Infection 
HEPAHigh-efficiency particulate air filterHEPA filters are used in biological safety cabinets to trap pathogenic microorganisms.
HPLCHigh-pressure (or performance) liquid chromatographySimilar to GLC but capable of higher resolution because of increased pressure of liquid carrier that runs through the column.
IFAIndirect fluorescent antibodyTest that detects antibody by allowing an antibody to react with its substrate and adding a second fluorescein dye-labeled antibody that will bind to the first.
IgAImmunoglobulin A
IgDImmunoglobulin D
IgEImmunoglobulin E
IgGImmunoglobulin G
IgMImmunoglobulin M
KIAKligler’s iron agar
KOHPotassium hydroxide
LCRLigase chain reaction
LD BodyLeishman-Donovan bodySmall, round intracellular form (called amastigote or leishmanial stage) of Leishmania spp. and Trypanosoma cruzi.
LGVLymphogranuloma venereumThe name of certain strains of Chlamydia trachomatis that cause a systemically expressed sexually transmitted disease.
LPSLipopolysaccharideCarbohydrate-lipid complex; integral substance in gram-negative cell walls. Also known as endotoxin.
MACMycobacterium avium complex
MACMacConkey agar
MBCMinimum Bactericidal concentrationThe minimum concentration of antimicrobial agent needed to yield a 99.9% reduction in viable colony-forming units of a bacterial or fungal suspension.
MHA-TPMicrohemagglutination test for antibody to Treponema pallidum
MICMinimum inhibitory concentrationThe minimum concentration of antimicrobial agent needed to prevent visually discernible growth of a bacterial or fungal suspension.
MOTTMycobacteria other than Mycobacterium tuberculosis
NCCLSNational Committee for Clinical Laboratory Standards
NGUNongonococcal urethritis
NIHNational Institutes of Health
NTMNontuberculous mycobacteriaAll species of mycobacteria that do not belong to M. tuberculosis complex.
O&POva and parasites
O-FOxidation-fermentation medium
ONPGo-nitrophenol-b-galactopyranoside (b-galactosidase test)
OSHAOccupational Safety and Health Administration
PCRPolymerase chain reactionA method for expanding small discrete sections of DNA by binding DNA primers to sections at the end of the DNA to be expanded and using cycles to heat (to create single-stranded DNA) and cooler temperatures (to allow a DNA polymerase enzyme to create new sections of DNA between primer ends)
PFGEPulsed-field gel electrophoresis
PFUPlaque-forming unit(s)
PIDPelvic inflammatory disease
PMCPseudomembranous colitisSyndrome in the large bowel characterized by a layer of necrotic tissue and dead inflammatory cells often caused by the toxin of Clostridioides difficile.
PMNsPolymorphonuclear leukocytes
PPDPurified protein derivativeSkin test antigen for tuberculosis
PPEPersonal protective equipment
QAQuality Assurance
QCQuality Control
QNSQuantity not sufficient
RBCsRed blood cells or erythrocytes
RFLPRestriction fragment length polymorphism
RNARibonucleic acid
RPRRapid plasma reaginNontreponemal test for antibodies developed in response to syphilis infection.
SPIASolid-phase immunosorbent assayELISA test in which the captured antigen or antibody is attached to the inside of a plastic or some other solid support. Allows faster interaction between reactants and more concentrated visual end products than ELISA tests performed in liquid.
STDSexually transmitted disease
TCBSThiosulfate citrate bile salt sucrose agar
TmMelting temperature
TPITreponema pallidum immobilization testA test for antibodies against the agent of syphilis that uses live treponemes.
TSATrypticase soy agar or tryptic soy agar
TSBTrypticase soy broth or tryptic soy broth
TSITriple sugar iron agar
TTATranstracheal aspiration
UTIUrinary tract infection
VDRLVenereal Disease Research LaboratoryClassic nontreponemal serologic test to detect “reaginic” antibodies produced by patients with syphilis.
WBCsWhite blood cells or leukocytes