Synthetic Biology

  • Select candidate clones in synthetic biology with confidence

What is synthetic biology?

Synthetic biology is a broad term that refers to the manipulation of genetic pathways to harness the power of existing biological systems in novel ways (often to manufacture molecules or proteins). Synthetic biology applies principles that are derived from engineering, specifically design-build-test-learn cycles, to biological systems. By leveraging high-throughput workflows, synthetic biologists can accelerate this process.

Picking the right colonies

For the synthetic biologist, biological building blocks are often generated from bacteria. The design-build-test process is utilized in order to engineer these building blocks. This often requires screening and picking colonies of interest.

Traditionally, colony picking is performed manually, using sterile pipette tips, toothpicks, or inoculation loops, which is a slow, labor-intensive, and time-consuming process. Synthetic biology research can, therefore, benefit greatly from the flexibility and throughput of automated colony pickers. Not only will automated colony pickers make the entire process quicker (picking up to 3,000 clones per hour), but the results are more consistent and reliable, increasing the quality of the data produced.

Some of the benefits of automated colony picking for synthetic biology:

  • Enables higher throughput while minimizing manual labor
  • Provides consistent, objective colony picking instead of subjective, manual picking
  • Accommodates a broad range of different applications
  • Electronic data tracking allows for well-documented data control

A typical microbial colony picker workflow


Microbial colony picker

Automated microbial colony picking systems, like our QPix 400 series, offer the unique option to simultaneously detect colonies and quantify fluorescent markers in a pre-screening step before picking.

Pick colonies accurately and effciently using organism-specific pins that maximize material transfer

  • Avoid cross contamination with a reliable pin sterilization process

Support a range of applications such as high-throughput cloning, library screening, strain engineering, and CRISPR editing



The QPix can be integrated with other lab components such as incubators, liquid handlers, and robotics for a fully automated work cell. Our customization and automation team can tailor QPix colony pickers and deploy the integration, or provide an open API and software support for the integration process.

QPix 400 Series Microbial Colony Pickers


Other great resources

Resources for Synthetic Biology

Videos & Webinars

Tips to automating molecular cloning and strain engineering applications

SynBioBeta - QPix Panel Discussion 2020

SynBioBeta - QPix Panel Discussion 2020

Customization and Automation

Customization and Automation

Synthetic Metagenomics: Converting Digital Information Back to Biology

Synthetic Metagenomics: Converting Digital Information Back to Biology