A Novel Workstation for Automating Agarose Gel Size Selection and Sample Analysis
Robust sample preparation techniques and accurate quality control are crucial for many applications such as next-generation sequencing (NGS), gene synthesis and cloning. These reactions benefit not only from analytical characterization of samples but also from precise size selection which is critical in maximizing the value of downstream processes.
For decades, researchers have used electrophoresis with agarose gels for both size selection and fragment length distribution assessment of DNA samples for downstream assays. However, in the era of big science and high-throughput sample processing, the manual work required for electrophoresis is becoming harder to sustain:
The manual process for gel-based size selection can cause sample-to-sample result deviation.
The processes of gel casting, target identification, and gel-dissolution recovery of nucleic acids are all subject to variability.
Rerun rates spurred by manual errors can incur significant costs – especially as many labs today perform more than 3,000 sequencing reactions per year, e.g. for translational medicine studies.
Manual size selection is an involved process that can add a full day or more to genomics workflows.
As a result, new approaches are needed for automated, high-throughput agarose gel size selection and electrophoretic sample characterization for improving results and speeding up research.
One example of how the process is being improved is the recently launched Hamilton Robotics Microlab® NIMBUS® Select workstation using Coastal® Genomics' Ranger® Technology. This workstation is capable of:
Automating gel-based size selection
Generating electrophoretic traces (analytics) in a high throughput, low cost manner
Generic liquid handling offered by the NIMBUS 96 platform
Coastal Genomics' Ranger Technology updates both the agarose gel size selection and analytics processes to meet the needs of genomics laboratories. Combined with the Hamilton Robotics workstation, this automated solution removes operator variability, reduces sample preparation time and secures sample integrity for downstream processes.
The NIMBUS Select workstation is a small-footprint liquid handler that can size select from 1 to 96 samples in a single run. Inexpensive, high-resolution analytics cassettes can be used to characterize up to 192 samples in a run without size selection. The NIMBUS can be additionally used to automate numerous applications including PCR setup, DNA/RNA isolation, serial dilution and fast plate replication.
Ranger Technology offers improvements over bead-based size selection approaches. Additional QC analytical processes required for beads are consolidated into the size selection run. The system typically improves intrinsic recovery yields and is capable of size selection over a broader range of targets (25 bp to > 20 kbp). Users can expect to eliminate undesirable off-target fragments, increase read lengths and improve normalization of libraries prior to sequencing.
Ranger Technology's analytics capability is ideal for groups faced with significant needs to assess fragment length distributions. Up to 192 high-resolution electropherograms can be developed in less than one hour. The system flexibly accommodates runs in which only a fraction of the capacity are loaded, thereby saving consumable costs. Coastal Genomics has also released a low-resolution analytics solution that accommodates up to 384 analyses per run. Reagent kits with even higher capacities are set to be released in late 2014.
This new and affordable method for size selection and analytics leverages automation to eliminate labour-intensive protocols. As the workload for gene synthesis and NGS increases, this system promises to save researchers valuable time and money.
For more information, please visit our websites:
COASTAL GENOMICS at www.coastalgenomics.com
HAMILTON ROBOTICS at www.hamiltonrobotics.com
About Hamilton Robotics
Hamilton Robotics designs and manufactures fully automated robotic systems for samples preparation and storage. The products range from unique, custom laboratory automation solutions (turnkey solutions) on standard applications validated through partnership programs with renowned biotechnology companies as well as OEM solutions to the top ten diagnostic companies. Hamilton Storage Technologies designs and manufactures cold storage systems for biobanking and other applications.