Since the 1980s it has been observed that the catabolic activities of microorganisms could be measured using sensitive calorimeters. The technique demonstrated that the thermal profiles of different organisms were dissimilar. Early consideration of the technique as a means of identifying microorganisms did not materialize. The major drawback of the technique is that, even using the most sensitive calorimeters, counts in the order of 104 are required, thus limiting its usefulness.

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