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Published On: March 21st, 2023Categories: Articles, Bacterial Colonies, Colony Picking

What is a microbial colony picker used for? This machine is used in the culturing of microbial samples in instances where researchers wish to select a certain colony and then duplicate it. There are many applications in which colony picking is used, including DNA sequencing, synthetic biology (syn-bio), anaerobic species selection for microbiome studies, clinical microbiology, and many others.In the past, colony picking was done manually and still is to some extent in modern times, depending on the application. Most researchers use automated colony pickers when single plates are screened. But how much do you know about your colony-picking tool? Read on to learn more about your automated colony picker and its place in your research laboratory.

1. Using a Microbial Colony Picker Reduces Errors.

One of the benefits of using an automated colony picker is the reduction of errors. With automation, you avoid cross-contamination, blank wells, reduce manual picking errors, and minimize the risk of double picks. With automation, colony picking can use imaging and image analysis to choose the colonies, and using automation reduces human error during the entire process.

2. A Colony Picker Has Clear Upstream & Downstream Processes.

Researchers involve colony picking in a variety of workflows. A typical upstream workflow for colony picking might be genome editing, cloning, colony plating, and sampling. At the same time, the downstream processes include re-growth, PCR, nucleic-acid purification, protein purification, mass spectrometry, fermentation, and enzymatic assays. Colony picking can also be a component in a larger picture and a more complex workflow.

3. You Need Throughput Info to Choose the Right Picker.

Not all microbial colony pickers are created alike, and some just integrate more seamlessly with certain processes and workflows. Before selecting a colony picker for your laboratory, you should determine your required throughput. For example, a medium throughput requiring picking a few hundred colonies per hour would work well with a single pin colony picker. However, colonies over 2,000 per hour would work well with a more capable multi-pin colony picker. When selecting a picker, notice the picking speed, plate capacity, and the ease of integrating additional automation.

4. Colony Pickers Have Different Programmed Parameters.

Further, as you decide on a microbial colony picker, you want to consider the different programmed parameters available with different machines. Get to know the software included with your robot before you make a decision. Some parameters to consider might be:

  • Sterilization options. If you use heat sterilization in your colony picker, this can reduce the risk of contamination.
  • Illumination. The right kind of lighting makes it easier for the human eye or a camera to select and choose the right colony for picking.
  • Selection efficiency. Different machines have different efficiencies; the industry standard is ~72 percent, but you can find pickers with efficiencies that are ~90 percent.

These parameters can matter greatly, depending on what you are using your colony picker for.

5. Microbial Colony Pickers Can Be Standalone or Integrated

Modern research has made microbial colony pickers more efficient and streamlined than ever before. You can opt for a standalone colony picker or one that adds onto other equipment, such as liquid and microplate handling robots. In this case, you use the robot as an actuator and have image analysis and camera abilities. Adding a microbial colony picker can help reduce expenses, and your liquid handling robot still has other uses.

Contact Hudson Robotics today for more information about automated microbial colony pickers, liquid handling robots, and other lab equipment that can help streamline your processes.