Seeds are the new gold. Why is that? Plant-based foods can feed an ever-growing world population. But climate change, pests and diseases threaten plant breeding. To help develop resistant seeds and make them available to agriculture, plant breeders need vast amounts of DNA. That is precisely why Synchron Lab has developed the "DNA factory", which is automated with handling gantries, electric axes, pneumatic grippers and sensors from Festo.
The system can extract a tremendous 40,000 DNA samples in the space of 24 hours. It thus meets the increasing demands for high throughput in laboratory automation. The demand for DNA samples has long been so high that it would not be possible to employ enough laboratory assistants to supply these quantities. Not to mention staffing costs. Thanks to the system, highly qualified laboratory assistants can concentrate on their core competence, the analysis of results.
Experienced laboratory assistants are able to manually extract the DNA from two microwell plates per day. With small, automated bench-top systems, a total of eight microwell plates per day can be achieved. Synchron Lab's novel "DNA factory" can manage a throughput of 400 microwell plates per day. Only one operator is needed to load and unload the microwell plates.
"Laboratories are still quite sceptical about automation. That's why it is important that laboratory staff can always see what is going on in the system," explains Glenn Dukel, Project and Business Development Manager at Synchron Lab. So they involved plant breeders in the development phase and also made the operating software as intuitive as possible, for instance using drag and drop functions.
Thanks to the close cooperation between Synchron Lab and Festo, the highly automated DNA factory was made a reality.