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Chemostat vs. Turbidostat: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 27, 2024
A chemostat maintains a constant chemical environment for cell culture, while a turbidostat regulates culture density by adjusting nutrient flow.

Key Differences

In a chemostat, the growth rate of cells is controlled by limiting the supply of one or more nutrients. Conversely, a turbidostat operates by keeping cell density constant, adjusting nutrient flow based on the turbidity (cloudiness) of the culture.
The chemostat ensures a steady state by adding nutrients at a fixed rate and removing culture at the same rate. The turbidostat, however, dynamically adjusts the rate of nutrient addition based on real-time measurements of culture density.
The feedback mechanism in a chemostat is based on nutrient concentration, while in a turbidostat, it's based on the turbidity of the culture. This difference leads to varying responses to changes in cell growth conditions.
Chemostats are often used for steady-state studies in microbial ecology and evolutionary biology, whereas turbidostats are preferred for experiments where maintaining a constant cell density is crucial.
In a chemostat, the dilution rate is the primary control variable, while in a turbidostat, it is the turbidity sensor that plays a crucial role in maintaining the desired state of the culture.

Comparison Chart

Control Mechanism

Nutrient concentration
Culture density (turbidity)

Feedback Basis

Nutrient flow rate
Turbidity sensor readings

Growth Condition

Steady-state growth
Constant cell density

Primary Use

Microbial ecology
Experiments with constant cell density

Regulation Method

Fixed nutrient addition rate
Adjusting nutrient flow based on turbidity

Chemostat and Turbidostat Definitions


Chemostat functions by continuously adding fresh medium and removing culture at the same rate.
In a chemostat, the balance between input and output sustains the culture.


A turbidostat is a bioreactor that maintains constant cell density by adjusting nutrient flow.
The turbidostat automatically altered nutrient supply to keep cell density stable.


A chemostat is a bioreactor that maintains a constant growth rate by limiting nutrients.
Researchers used a chemostat to study bacterial adaptation.


It operates by monitoring and controlling the turbidity of the culture medium.
Turbidity control in a turbidostat ensures consistent culture conditions.


A chemostat enables the study of steady-state microbial populations.
Scientists employed a chemostat to observe steady-state dynamics in bacteria.


It's a device that dynamically adjusts to changes in culture conditions.
The flexibility of the turbidostat makes it ideal for dynamic biological studies.


It is used in microbiology to study the effects of environmental changes on microorganisms.
The chemostat proved vital in understanding microbial responses to nutrient changes.


Turbidostat is used for experiments requiring constant cell density.
For their experiment, scientists chose a turbidostat to maintain uniform cell growth.


It's a device for cultivating microorganisms under controlled conditions.
A chemostat allows precise control over the growth environment of microbes.


A turbidostat is suitable for studying cellular responses under constant growth conditions.
Researchers used a turbidostat to analyze how cells react to continuous growth.


(biochemistry) An apparatus for the continuous culture of microorganisms in a steady state


A continuous microbiological culture device in which fluid is automatically added, and product removed, to maintain a constant turbidity


(chemistry) To keep the concentration of a chemical constant


What is the primary use of a chemostat?

For studying microbial ecology and evolutionary biology under steady-state conditions.

Can a turbidostat be used for any type of cell culture?

Yes, particularly for cultures where maintaining constant cell density is crucial.

What is a chemostat?

A bioreactor that maintains a constant growth rate by limiting nutrients.

How does a turbidostat function?

It adjusts nutrient flow based on the turbidity of the culture to maintain constant cell density.

Can a turbidostat respond to rapid changes in cell growth?

Yes, its design allows for quick adjustments to maintain cell density.

Are chemostats used in industrial applications?

Yes, in fermentation and pharmaceutical industries.

How does a chemostat control microbial growth?

By controlling the rate of nutrient supply.

Is a turbidostat suitable for long-term experiments?

Yes, especially if consistent cell density is needed over time.

What type of sensors does a turbidostat use?

It primarily uses turbidity sensors.

Can a chemostat operate under variable environmental conditions?

Yes, but within the limits of its nutrient supply control.

What safety precautions are necessary with a chemostat?

Proper handling of cultures and regular maintenance of the system.

What differentiates a chemostat from a turbidostat?

A chemostat limits nutrient supply for growth control, while a turbidostat adjusts nutrient flow based on turbidity.

Is a turbidostat more complex than a chemostat?

Generally yes, due to its dynamic control system.

Can a chemostat simulate natural environmental conditions?

To some extent, especially in terms of nutrient availability.

What research benefits does a chemostat offer?

It allows for controlled study of microbial behavior under steady-state conditions.

How quickly can a turbidostat adjust to changes?

It can adjust almost immediately to maintain desired cell density.

What makes a turbidostat ideal for cell density studies?

Its ability to maintain a constant cell density regardless of external conditions.

Does operating a turbidostat require specialized training?

Yes, understanding its dynamic system is crucial for effective operation.

Are chemostats expensive to operate?

They can be, depending on the scale and complexity of the experiment.

Can a turbidostat be used for small-scale experiments?

Yes, it's adaptable to various scales of research.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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