In a recent post a month or two ago I noted that the current, so called “Total Laboratory Automation” systems still had a few gaps in them (Click here for the article), one of them being the ability to automatically pick colonies off a plate and inoculate MALDITOF plates and susceptibility broths.
It therefore came as somewhat of a surprise to me as I wandered around the Trade Exhibition at the ECCMID in Copenhagen. The sign “Automated Colony Picking” caught my eye..
And sure enough, there it was, a robotic system that could automatically pick a digitally marked colony, and inoculate a Maldi plate and a susceptibility broth. The company was called “Sci-Robotics”, and the hardware called “Pickolo”. It was being trialled at a laboratory in Italy, apparently with good success, even for small or mucoid colonies.
The big corporates involved in bacteriology automation (you know who they are…) were showing a considerable degree of interest in the hardware!
Somehow I don’t think it will be very long before automated colony pickers are added to the big laboratory automation platforms.
In fact I don’t think it will be long (less than 10 years) before the manual work that the microbiology scientists will be performing will be restricted to the weird, the complex, and the bits and pieces which don’t easily automate.
….and that is exactly the way it should be.
Click here for a You-tube video on the automated colony picker as described above.