Product News: Automation Improves Tobacco Research

08 Apr 2009

Advanced Technologies Cambridge (ATC) in Cambridge, UK, is using Quantitative PCR techniques to assay transgenic plant cells, and uses Tecan’s Freedom EVO® 100 liquid handling workstation to automate pipetting tasks for these screens. The Company has a strong research interest in plant biotechnology.

Tim Beddoes, a molecular biologist at ATC, explained: “There are a number of toxicants in cigarette smoke with the potential to cause disease, and our aim is to find ways to alter pathways within the tobacco plant that are responsible for those compounds or their precursors. As part of this project, transgenic plants are created and we use Q PCR techniques to assay for introduced sequences. These screens require a lot of pipetting, which we used to perform manually, and with automation we can now run several thousand assays per month.”

“Our current workstation set-up has an eight channel arm and uses Tecan’s 50 μl disposable tips with 384-well format plates. The reproducibility is comparable to manual pipetting, but the tasks are performed much more quickly. We perform our QPCR in final reaction volumes of 25 μl, because using relatively small volumes obviously cuts down on reagent and sample costs, and the 50 μl tips are perfect for pipetting the 5 μl of DNA and 20 μl of master mix. The 50 μl tip is also ideal for aliquoting fractions for experimental replicates.” Tim concluded.