Complete Guide to Colony Picking Tools
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Published On: June 20th, 2023Categories: Articles, DNA

Colony picking and its tools are essential parts of a molecular biology laboratory. Colony picking involves choosing one pure colony in a microorganism (usually bacteria or yeast) for future use, often as  a part of DNA plasma isolation. Colony picking can be performed as a manual process, but automated colony pickers can also be used to make the manual process much more efficient and accurate. Read on to learn more about colony picking and what types of colony picking tools should be in your laboratory.

The Manual Colony Picking Process

First, you can do this process manually, without the use of automated colony picking tools. Manual colony picking involves choosing, picking, and inoculating fungal or bacterial colonies. Generally, this protocol is as such:

  1. Culture the chosen microorganisms in an agar plate.
  2. Isolate and pick colonies from the plate using tools such as a toothpick, needle, or inoculating loop.
  3. Inoculate the isolated colonies in a new agar plate, biochemical media, and liquid broth for a pure culture.
  4. Let the new plate incubate overnight to regrow the isolated strain, according to your protocol.
  5. Store the contents or perform further tests as needed.

Manual colony picking was the conventional method for picking for many years; however, automated colony pickers have made the process simpler and more accurate.

Automated Colony Pickers: The Ultimate Colony Picker Tool

Automation in colony pickers has changed the face of the way colony picking is performed. Colony pickers rely on the use of robotic arms, which can hold multiple tools to perform several colony picking workflows. Automated colony pickers and their robotic arms are controlled by software. To pick, a robotic arm selects the desired colony from the plate, and its internal image recognition software recognizes the image that staff has uploaded into the system. Then, the arm will pick up the chosen colony, transferring it to broth tubes and solid media plates. An automated colony picker can pick over 2,000 colonies per hour and can be programmed for even more colonies for large-scale production.

Colony Picking Tools

A microbial colony picker needs associated tools with it to perform certain functions for different protocols. Within the colony picker are stacked single-plate microplates – petri dishes or single well micropates known as omnitrays(tm). A camera is mounted on the picker and is used to create an image that is processed by user set parametersto generatepicking coordinates. A pin tool is used to preform the picks, once a suitable colony is chosen and the location known. Software is an important part of your colony picking tools as well. Not only do you want to be familiar with its features before you choose your colony picker, but you also want to make sure that its software integrates with other equipment in your lab. Having complementary equipment within your lab offers a more seamless process.

Benefits of Automation and Colony Picking Tools:

Manual colony picking can be time-consuming and prone to errors, whereas automated colony picking tools significantly streamline the process, reducing repetitive and tedious tasks. Automation not only accelerates colony picking but also minimizes the risk of human error due to decreased manual intervention. Here are some additional benefits:

  • Enhances workflow efficiency: With automated colony pickers, laboratory personnel can focus on other critical tasks while the machine handles colony picking, maximizing overall productivity and throughput.
  • Improves experimental consistency: Automation ensures uniformity in colony picking, leading to more reliable and reproducible experimental results, especially when dealing with large sample sizes or complex microbial cultures.
  • Reduces operational costs: Automated colony pickers offer a cost-effective solution for laboratories seeking to transition into automation, providing a lower-cost upgrade option compared to other automated equipment. By optimizing resource allocation and minimizing manual labor, laboratories can achieve significant cost savings over time.

Automated colony picking tools represent a pivotal advancement in microbiology laboratories, offering increased efficiency, consistency, and cost-effectiveness. Incorporating these tools into laboratory workflows can drive innovation and accelerate scientific discoveries in the field of microbiology.

Other relevant FAQs:

How does the cost-effectiveness of automated colony pickers compare to the initial investment and ongoing maintenance costs, particularly for smaller or medium-sized laboratories?

Automated colony pickers offer significant labor savings, but assessing their cost-effectiveness should consider factors such as initial investment, maintenance, and scale of operations.

What are the potential limitations or challenges in integrating automated colony picking tools with existing laboratory infrastructure and workflows, especially concerning software compatibility and data management systems?

While automated colony pickers streamline workflows, compatibility issues with existing systems and software may pose challenges, requiring careful consideration during implementation.

In what specific scenarios or research applications do the benefits of automated colony picking outweigh the potential loss of flexibility or customization compared to manual picking methods?

Although automation enhances efficiency, understanding its limitations and applicability to diverse research contexts is crucial for optimizing workflow and resource allocation in the laboratory.

To learn more about colony picking tools and automated colony pickers for your laboratory, contact a Hudson Robotics representative today for a quote.