It’s Time to Automate Your Plasmid Purification

In the fifty years since the first reported transformation of recombinant plasmids into bacteria (1), plasmid cloning has become one of the pillars of synthetic biology research and manufacturing biopharmaceuticals.

But purifying plasmids is no small feat. It can often take hours of hands-on time to go from culture to eluate with low-throughput and time-sensitive manual methods. Automating plasmid purification is the way to go, whether you’re isolating a single plasmid from a large volume culture or creating a library of thousands of different constructs.

Working in a biosafety cabinet filled with flasks and culture plates containing yellow bacterial cultures, a researcher harvests a culture.
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It Takes a Village: Automating Plasmid Purification for iGEM

Today’s blog is guest-written by Wihan Adi, a Master’s student majoring in physics at Justus-Liebig-University in Giessen and team member of iGEM Marburg. Although his background is in nuclear and particle physics, his research interests shifted toward affordable biosensors for point-of-care cancer detection, which is how he ended up doing microbiology for iGEM.

Back in March when the iGEM season had just started, Maurice, a fellow iGEM Marburg team member, told me that he was exchanging emails with Margaretha Schwartz from Promega. Given my background as a physics student, Promega was not a household name for me at the time. “So, are you interested in automating a plasmid purification protocol?” asked Maurice. He told me that Promega was willing to supply the Wizard® MagneSil® Plasmid Purification System for this purpose; that was another name that added to my confusion.

This year, iGEM Marburg is aiming to establish a fast phototrophic organism as a synthetic biology chassis. For this goal we chose Synechococcus elongatus UTEX 2973, with a reported doubling time of 90 minutes. More specifically, we are creating an easy to use toolbox to empower rapid design testing, including genome engineering tools, self-replicating plasmid systems, natural competence and a Golden Gate-based part library. Our team chose to work on phototrophic organisms because we envision accelerating research in this particular field. (Note: Last year, Marburg’s iGEM project won the Grand Prize!)

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