Fermentalg® uses QPix® 420 colony picker to leverage microalgae metabolism to produce natural food dyes




Audrey S. Commault, PhD - Senior Scientist

Rodrigo Rangel, PhD - R&D Director

Julien Demol, M. Sc. - Engineer


QPix 420 Microbial Colony Pickers

The Challenge

Microalgae have gained significant attention as a sustainable source for alternative products, such as fish oils, animal proteins, antioxidants, and natural pigments. Fermentalg, a leading scientific company, dedicated itself to studying microalgae's potential and their impact on human health, nutrition, and ecological transition. However, the challenge they faced was finding an efficient way to screen and select the most promising microalgal strains for their research.
Julien Demol operating the QPix 420 microbial colony picker

The Solution

Recognising the need for a time-saving and labor-efficient method, Fermentalg made a groundbreaking decision to equip its laboratories with a high throughput screening platform. This platform enabled them to streamline their screening process and optimize their industrial strains effectively. A crucial component of this platform is the QPix 420 instrument, which revolutionized the colony picking step.

Products Used

The QPix® 420 Microbial Colony Picker is a cutting-edge solution that leverages state-of-the-art technology to address bottlenecks in genetic library screening. With its precision robotics and intuitive software, it enables scientists to quickly, accurately, and efficiently screen through large libraries, saving time and increasing productivity.

More than just colony pickers, these systems enable scientists to:

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The Result

By adopting the QPix 420 instrument, Fermentalg achieved remarkable results. Previously, the colony picking process was performed manually, leading to significant time consumption and labor intensiveness. However, with the QPix 420 system, Fermentalg experienced significant time savings and a significant increase in their screening capacity.

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Selection of Galdieria sulphuraria colonies in transmitted light (top) and fluorescence (bottom).

Figure. Selection of Galdieria sulphuraria colonies in transmitted light (top) and fluorescence (bottom). Pickable colonies are displayed in yellow. Orange: colonies excluded according to selection criteria. Top right panel: selection criteria defined for accurate colony picking. The bottom image shows the fluorescence of G. sulphuraria colonies expressing different levels of C-phycocyanin. The Red filter pair (Ex/Em: 628/692) was used. Bottom right panel: fluorescence histogram displayed as Mean Intensity.

Enhanced Applications

Fermentalg now enjoys a wide range of applications with its high throughput screening platform. The platform enables the selection of mutants with improved production capacity of omega-3 and phycocyanin, a natural blue pigment stable at extreme pH and temperature conditions. Additionally, the platform allows Fermentalg to screen their extensive Fermentalg Culture Collection, which houses 2077 species of microalgae and marine bacteria, facilitating the discovery of innovative molecules.

According to Fermentalg scientists, the integration of the QPix 420 microbial colony picker has been transformative. It replaces the laborious manual picking method, which relied on sterile pipette tips or inoculation loops, with a high throughput system that can rapidly identify and select unique colonies based on morphological features and fluorescence markers.

“QPix 420 system allows for high throughput colony picking, enabling phenotypic selection of unique colonies based on morphological features and fluorescence levels of specific markers or native pigments.”

Unprecedented Throughput

With the QPix 420 system in place, Fermentalg scientists now have an impressive throughput capability. On average, they can pick 1500 colonies per week, corresponding to approximately 30 plates. This substantial increase in efficiency and capacity far surpasses the maximum of 400 colonies per week that could be manually picked.

In conclusion, Fermentalg has successfully addressed its research challenges by implementing the high throughput screening platform and the QPix 420 instrument. These advancements have revolutionized their research capabilities, enabling efficient strain selection and discovery of innovative molecules. With a focus on human health, nutrition, and ecological transition, Fermentalg continues to make significant contributions to the field of microalgae research, promoting a healthier and more sustainable future for all.

Visit the Fermentalg website today to learn more- https://www.fermentalg.com/