GBRU: reference and diagnostic services

GBRU is the national reference laboratory for gastrointestinal pathogens and provides specialist testing of clinical, food, water and environmental samples.

Gastrointestinal bacteria reference unit (GBRU) is part of UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA) bacteria reference department (BRD).

GBRU is made up of 3 sections:

  • foodborne pathogens reference services
  • gastrointestinal infections reference service
  • salmonella reference services

GBRU services

GBRU provides national reference facilities for many gastrointestinal associated bacteria, including:

  • Bacillus
  • Clostridium botulinum
  • Clostridium perfringens
  • Clostridium tetani
  • Listeria
  • Staphylococcal enterotoxin detection
  • Campylobacter
  • Helicobacter pylori
  • Escherichia coli
  • Shigella, Vibrio and Yersinia species
  • Salmonella

Research and training

GBRU undertakes research into the genetic diversity of pathogens and the development of improved detection and characterisation techniques for food, water and environmentally-borne diseases.

GBRU is also able to offer expert advice, education and training on public health aspects of food microbiology and safety.

For more information on GBRU services and contact details refer to the BRD user manual.

Guidance and forms

BRD manual

Gastrointestinal bacteria culture request form: L4

Gastrointestinal bacteria clinical request form: L5

Gastrointestinal bacteria food and environmental sample form: L7

Gastrointestinal pathogens: specimen acceptance criteria

Gastrointestinal pathogens: interpreting PCR assays guidance

Implementing pathogen genomics: a case study



UK Health Security Agency
61 Colindale Avenue


To email individuals use:

Telephone 020 8327 7887

DX address UKHSA Colindale Bacteriology, DX 6530002

Published 1 July 2014
Last updated 28 May 2021 + show all updates
  1. Changed service update to reflect that all routine services have been resumed.

  2. Removed 'Reference laboratory services during coronavirus pandemic' section.

  3. Added notification of service delivery changes made to PHE reference and specialist laboratories to provide critical support to the COVID-19 incident.

  4. Added guidance about GBRU reference and diagnostic services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  5. Added 'Implementing pathogen genomics: a case study'.

  6. First published.