Last updated on February 15, 2022 by
List of Top Microbiology Lab Equipment & Instruments
In a microbiology laboratory, microbes such as bacteria and viruses are grown and studied. Microbiology labs require certain kinds of equipment to grow the cultures properly. You’ll need incubators to help keep the cell cultures at a constant temperature, along with biosafety equipment like high-quality high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to prevent the microorganisms from being released into the air in the lab.
In addition to the larger pieces of lab equipment, you’ll need a number of smaller lab supplies, including magnetic stirrers, test tubes, and glassware, slides, autoclaves, Petri dishes, culture media, pipettes, pH meter, and more.
Here, we aim to focus on some of the most common and useful types of life sciences laboratory equipment you may need in your microbiology lab. However, this is not an exhaustive list. The types of equipment you’ll need will vary depending on what specific tests your lab will be running, so it’s essential to know what specialized instruments and systems your work will require.
Microscopes are among the most common pieces of laboratory equipment. They use lenses and light to magnify small objects to display things that cannot be seen with the naked eye.
Prepare the sample by placing it within a microscope slide, and place the slide on the instrument’s platform. Make the appropriate adjustments to the focusing eyepieces so that both the left and right fields of view are seen as one. Now, set the the diopter adjustment on both eyepieces to the “0” position. From there, start with the lowest magnification objective and focus the image by using just one eye, whichever you are most comfortable with. Move to the highest magnification objective and repeat the procedure using the highest objective lens. The image should remain in focus as you move between magnification adjustments on the microscope
Popular Microscope Manufacturers
Diving deeper into the world of microscopes, an electron microscope uses electrons instead of light (photons) to magnify extremely small objects. It produces an image on a computer screen, providing much more detail than a typical optical microscope.
While operating an electron microscope can be challenging, the basic principles of use are straightforward. To operate one in a microbiology lab, place the sample on the platform. Depending on the model, it may be placed inside or outside the machine. Use the digital interface to start your device and wait for it to produce an image. Understanding exactly how an electron microscope works and what types are available is a vital part of procuring the right model for your lab.
Popular Electron Microscope Brands
- Thermo Fisher
A microarray scanner looks at gene expression in multiple samples of genes. It can detect the expression of thousands of genes at the same time. The microarrays are slides that can be printed with thousands of biological samples in designated positions to make scanning easier. These are also called gene chips.
Load the microarray with multiple DNA samples and slide into the scanner. Depending on what you’re looking for, you can use fluorescent dyes to help identify those specific attributes.
Popular Microarray Scanner Brands
- Thermo Fisher
- Molecular Devices
A colony picker is used to identify, select, and duplicate specific microbial colonies. This is useful for cloning multiple copies of a bacteria for studying and wide spectrum testing. Colony pickers are also used to screen bacteria for drug discovery and the samples can be transferred for additional testing. It is also used for DNA sequencing, biofuel research, and studying fungi. It is also useful to have one of these alongside a colony counter that counts the bacteria in a colony and the number of colonies.
Load a tray or Petri dish with the chosen cultures or bacteria. An automated colony picker uses its own software to find the bacterial colonies. Using tips, the picker then “picks” the bacteria and reproduces it in a multiwell plate. It’s possible to use colony pickers without automation – either doing the cloning manually or by hand. The automated approach saves personnel costs and reduces human error.
Popular Colony Picker Brands
- Hudson Robotics
- Molecular Devices
A PCR machine uses polymerase chain reactions to amplify DNA sequences in vitro. This allows you to copy specific parts of DNA.
Prepare your sample, usually in a multiwell plate. Begin by pipetting the DNA sample into each well. Place it into the PCR machine for analysis.
Popular PCR System Brands
- Thermo Fisher
Western Blot Imager
The Western Blot Imager is used to image and observe nucleic acid and proteins with agarose or polyacrylamide gels to locate or identify specific proteins.
Prepare the sample and suspend the DNA within a gel, like an agar plate. The gel has a current run through it, in a process known as electrophoresis. At that point, the nucleic acids are separated from the gel. The sample gets “washed” to remove extraneous proteins to focus only on what’s necessary. The resulting data is then run through a software program to create an image.
Popular Western Blot Imager Brands
- Thermo Fisher
Surface Plasmon Resonance Instrument
Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) allows for label-free real-time detection of biomolecular interactions. It’s used to observe how two molecules interact – either by dissociation or binding.
One type of molecule is prepared and immobilized on the surface of the sensor. Then, a solution with the second type of molecule is introduced. The machine uses the surface plasmon resonance phenomena that occurs to determine various aspects of how the two molecules interact.
Popular SPR Instrument Brands
- Reichert Technologies
So, How Much Does it Cost to Open a Microbiology Lab?
Starting a microbiology lab can be quite challenging because there’s an extensive amount of equipment to procure and you need to find the appropriate lab space. While it does require a rather significant amount of capital to get started – ranging anywhere from $50,000 to $2 million+ depending on your location, the type of lab, and required equipment – there are ways to raise the money you need – and save on various costs.
Most of the lab startup costs will be associated with lab space and equipment. Location plays a role in the cost of facility rent, but you can significantly stretch your budget by opting to lease your equipment rather than purchasing new or used equipment. It’s crucial to go beyond the major pieces of equipment you’ll need and also consider things you’ll need for disinfection and quality control purposes.
What Considerations Should You Make When Purchasing Microbiology Equipment?
Buying New Equipment
Buying new equipment is an attractive proposition because not only is it unlikely to be defective, the latest equipment is often the fastest and most accurate available on the market. However, with that comes a hefty price tag and the responsibility of maintenance and repair in the event of a breakdown.
Buying Used Equipment
While buying used equipment can save you money compared to buying new, there’s still a significant upfront cost involved. There’s always the chance the equipment will be defective or breakdown sooner than you expect. You’re still responsible for the upkeep, which can add a great deal to your overall costs.
Leasing microbiology lab equipment with Excedr helps you save money because there is a more affordable upfront cost. Plus, our leases include preventative maintenance and repairs in the monthly price, so it’s one less thing for you to worry about. When your lease is over, you can upgrade to newer equipment, renew the lease, or cost-effectively purchase the equipment.
Contact us today to learn more.