Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Singer RoToR - official liftoff

You might remember the big crate that we received a while ago. Today Ian from Singer Instruments (UK) showed up to unpack the box and install the Singer RoToR.

At this point we needed to lift the device onto the bench. As an example of good design, it had comfy handles attached to both sides, and so four of us relatively easily lifted the 120kg device up and onto the bench.

Here is a zoom on the handle.

Notice the silver globe. This is one of the important features of the device -- an integrated beer bottle opener. In recent years they added an option also to get instead a corkscrew. We decided to go with the traditional choice :-)

So what exactly is this device all about. The job of the Singer RoToR is to copy multiple colonies between plates. Either agar plates or multi-well liquid plates.

As you can see it has a movable arm (parked on the right here), locations to put plates (color coded, black, blue, red, yellow, and green), and two drawers. On the drawer on the right it can pick up sterile "pads" which are essentially plastic pincushions. It then uses the pins to copy cells from one plate to another (or from one to many, or vice versa). It disposes of the pad in the left into a waste drawer.

While this sounds simple enough, the beauty of the machine is that it is very precise and can copy very dense plates (upto 3074 colonies on a plate) in a precise manner. In addition all the work is done in a sterile environment. When the protective wall is in place, all the operations are done in a space that is U/V sterilized. The device opens the lid, does the copying, and then closes them.

The best way to see this, is to watch a movie. In this movie we asked the robot to copy from 96 wells onto an agar plate in 384 colonies format with four repetitions of each original well.


The result of this process is a dense array of colonies on the agar. In fact, we can see them if we look carefully. Here Drora (a local yeast expert from another lab) shows off the resulting plate.

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