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Image of bacteria and robot for article on automated colony picking.
Published On: May 11th, 2021

Processes That Integrate Pipetting Robots

Colony picking is a vital process in biological labs as it’s a step that many applications rely on. It’s used in microbial screening to identify new bacterial strains with undiscovered behavior or structure and develop new products from drugs to commercial products. Colony picking is also used to separate and grow colonies from single cells to insure homogeneity for transfection and transformation processes.

By improving these processes in the lab, you can significantly improve your research productivity and accuracy. One of the best ways to do that is with an automated colony picker, and below are the things to consider when choosing an automated colony picker robot.

Lab Throughput Requirements

You should figure out your required throughput to select the right automated colony picker. If you need medium-throughput of a few hundred colonies per hour, you can choose a compact, low-cost colony picker robot. In contrast, if you plan to scale up your colony picking to over 2,000 colonies per hour, there are larger, more advanced robots as well. Depending on your requirements, you can consider the number of pins, plate capacity, and picking speed.

Lab Sample Tracking

With the need for increased output, it’s getting more important to track the samples as they go through the labs’ workcell. Automated colony pickers automatically image samples, analyze the image against the user-defined parameters associated with them, and associate the selected colonies with the exact destination wells. You should also look at automated colony picker robots that support barcode tracking for colony and culture plates. These provide you with an unbroken data path from the original colony sample to the final result.

Are You Integrating Your Colony Picker with Other Workflows?

Colony picking fits in various applications with many upstream and downstream workflows. If there are a few processes that make up the bulk of the research work in your lab, you may want to properly integrate the appropriate equipment with your colony picker to create a fully automated workcell. For instance, you can add various levels of additional automation to increase the capability of the automated system and the walk-away time, or unattended run time of the syste. You may also integrate an automated colony picker with a DNA purification station, thermocycler, liquid handler, and microplate handler to expand the automation capability beyone simply picking to greatly reduce your team’s hands-on time.

Available Parameters for Selecting Colonies

An automated colony picker relies on programmed parameters to identify and pick the desired colonies. Most robots have software that allows you to select the visual parameters of the colonies you want, such as radius, shape, color, separation, conformity, a contrast to the background, and other characteristics. With most software, you can create and define your own parameters to ensure your automated colony picker selects the right colony.

Other than the considerations mentioned above, here are other factors you can consider when choosing the right automated colony picker.

  • Selection Efficiency: The industry standard for the percentage of human pickable colonies that robots can pick is approximately 72%. However, it’s now easier to find automated colony pickers with over 90% efficiency in the market such as The RapidPick.
  • Illumination: Proper illumination helps the colony picker robot view, analyze, and pick the right colony. A light with controllable light intensity, changeable colors, and fluorescence gives you more the ability to select the right colonies.
  • Sterilization Options: A range of sterilization features are available on automated colony pickers from UV to heat sterilization. These are effective options that don’t require the tips to contact an ethanol bath, which means less chance of contamination.

With colony picking being an important part of various lab applications. As the demand for research labs increases, setting up an automated colony picker will help you increase efficiency and accuracy to meet those demands.

Contact Hudson Robotics to know more about our automated colony picking solutions.