Image of bactera colony in dish for article on automated colony picking.
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Published On: October 3rd, 2023Categories: Articles, pH Meter
The process of colony picking involves selecting a colony of single-strain, pure microbes so they can be duplicated later. Colony picking is used in a vast amount of applications, including polymerase chain reaction (PCR), mass spectrometry, protein purification, and others. Decades ago, all colony picking was performed by hand, which could be time-consuming and difficult for lab technicians. However, with advances in laboratory automation, automated colony picking minimizes manual labor, is more efficient, and most machines can process thousands of samples per hour. Also, colony-picking robots are more accurate than their human counterparts. Read on to learn how you can improve accuracy and efficiency in your lab with automated colony picking, and how this can positively impact your entire workflow.

Laboratory Automation & Automated Colony Picking

There are several ways you can use automated colony picking in your laboratory. If your goal is to be a high-throughput laboratory, then an automated, high-throughput colony picker is optimal. The risk of human error is minimal using a microbial colony picker. It eliminates the possible inadvertant swapping of samples with manual processes. If the sample is swapped, then this hinders any future exploration of the colonies. An automated colony picker requires little manual labor and can process up to 2,500 colonies per hour. Smaller machines not specifically designed for high throughput can still process hundreds of colonies per hour but require more human interaction.

Improving Your Workflows with Automation

A fully automated workflow in your lab is cost-effective, efficient, and promotes accuracy, and can help overcome the challenges in colony picking. Small-scale applications can use manual pipetting, but larger-scale applications cannot perform this manually without sacrificing time and accuracy. Robotic arm integration is the most common way to automate multiple lab instruments using standard microtiter plate formats. Robotic arm integration can be used to automate pipetting, heat shock transformation using thermocyclers, and rapid colony isolation.

Using automated tools, such as automated colony picking, in the lab can also help reduce cross-contamination, provide the most precise colony selection, and provide data management within your workflow. Many automated colony-picking systems also come complete with a high-resolution camera and barcode reader for data traceability and a clean database.

Innovative Tools for Colony Picking

Automated colony picking is not new; it has been around for some time now. Some applications still use manual picking, but the emphasis has mainly been on laboratory automation and automated picking. Hudson Robotics has developed two innovative tools that can also improve your accuracy and reproducibility. The LabLinx™ microplate delivery system works seamlessly with the PlateCrane EX™ and can turn an ordinary liquid handler into a completely automated workcell. The LabLinx™™ stacker allows instruments to integrate with a several different protocols:

  • Moves all labware: microplates, deepwell plates, tip racks, microtube racks
  • Links together any robotics-compatible lab instruments
  • Builds a high-speed automated work cell on existing bench space
  • Easily reconfigures to accommodate new equipment and assays
  • Installs easily within standard laboratory hoods

The LabLinx™ system can operate simultaneously on many plates, much more than a single robotic arm integration can provide. These new additions and developments are significantly beneficial to high-throughput labs but can be used in several different applications. This laboratory automation improves automated colony picking, allowing for more accuracy, efficiency, and reproducibility across the board.

To learn more about automated colony picking, and Hudson Robotics’ innovative developments, or to request a quote, contact us today, and we’ll be in touch!