Equipment Leasing Solutions
Biotech Life Science
Colony Pickers

How a Colony Picker Works & How We Save You Time & Money

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Colony picker equipment

Colony picking is the process of selecting individual colonies of pure, single-strain microbes from a solid media plate—such as agar plate, slide, mini gel, or petri dish—and duplicating them for further use.

Biotech diagram

Isolating microbial colonies in this stage is vital in various downstream processes, including mass spectrometry, protein purification, and PCR. Food testing, biofuels, genome editing, microbiology, synthetic biology, and immunotherapy are just a few areas that benefit from colony picking.

Colony picking is performed using a colony picker, also referred to as a colony arrayer or colony picking system, as well as a microbial colony pickers or pin colony picker depending on the manufacturer. Some of the most popular manufacturers include:

  • Hudson Robotics
  • Molecular Devices
  • Tecan

Furthermore, automating the colony picking process has helped scientists in the life sciences industry further their work in duplicating microbes. Hand-picking bacterial or fungal colonies used to take hours, and for tasks as complex as sequencing the human genome, this was prohibitively tedious.

In addition to the massive amount of time it would take to complete, the high probability of human error often made the work useless. Luckily, colony picking has become fully automated and is optimized for both speed and accuracy.

Many automated devices rely on a multi-pin picking unit, robotic arm, multiple microplate stacks, a media dispenser, adhesive plate sealer, and standalone enclosure. This transition from using a single pin to a picking head equipped with multiple independently controlled pins has greatly sped up the duplication process.

Many devices are designed to pick from SBS-compatible omni-trays, segmented colony plates, 24-well, 96-well and 384-well plates, as well as petri dishes. The device is also capable of inoculating many of these trays and plates, from omni-trays to 24-, 96-, and 384-well plates of various heights, saving even more time.

Additionally, image processing is now performed using software. A picker will accurately identify the necessary colonies that are to be copied and transfers part of the organism to a separate medium to grow. Today, high-resolution image analysis plays a large role in automated colony picking.

Ultimately, this top-to-bottom automation has allowed scientists to go from reproducing a few hundred bacteria or fungi in a day to hundreds of thousands in a day.

Colony Arrayer Applications & Advantages

An open hand with a DNA strand coming out of the palm

These devices are used for a wide variety of applications across multiple fields of study, some of which we will cover below.

DNA Sequencing

To find the order of the nucleotide bases, DNA sequencing must be performed. This research is important to advancing knowledge in various biology fields.

To perform DNA sequencing, the sample genome must be broken down into smaller pieces, cloned, mixed with other material, rebuilt, and analyzed to determine its sequence. Using a colony picker, specifically for the cloning phase in the process, more gene samples can be replicated, meaning larger DNA strands can be analyzed.

Food Testing

Microbial testing in the food industry is very important. Using colony pickers, scientists can screen thousands of samples of food products for dangerous bacteria and mold quickly.

Due to certain food’s shelf life, rapid testing is vital to ensure that the integrity of the food is not compromised. The testing of yeast, mold, and other pathogens in dairy products also poses the additional problem of needing to keep the sample cold.

Having fast colony preparation and testing ensures that additional impurities are not introduced in this testing phase.


Immunotherapy is an important technique in treating cancer. This biological therapy boosts a person’s immune system by using living tissues to duplicate cancer-fighting substances.

Monoclonal antibodies, or mAbs, are one such type of treatment that benefits greatly from the use of colony pickers. In this treatment, researchers create specific antibodies that target specific antigens found on cancer cells.

In order for this to be effective, tens of thousands of these mAbs need to be made in a relatively short period of time. This treatment is effective due to the huge throughput of mAbs and monoclonal hybridoma colonies that a picker can create.

Genetic Engineering

When the human genome was mapped it marked a huge step in our understanding of ourselves. This discovery has helped progression in multiple existing fields of study as well as opened up many new fields of study.

Genetic engineering, once thought to be science fiction, has become very real. Similar techniques to those involved in the charting of human DNA are used to break down and change parts of our genetic code.

Companies such as CRISPR have even given people the ability to do simple gene editing in their own homes. Colony pickers have not only contributed to the advancements in our knowledge of our own DNA, but have also continued to be of use to us in altering them now.

We Offer Colony Picker Leases to Fit Every Need

An animated petri dish

Founder-Friendly Leases

Our lease agreements are founder-friendly and flexible, helping you preserve working capital, strengthen the cash flow of your business, and keep business credit lines open for expansions, staffing, and other crucial operational expenses and business development opportunities.

2-5 Year Lease Lengths

Leases range from 2 to 5 years. Length will depend on several factors, including how long you want to use the equipment, equipment type, and your company’s financial position. These are standard factors leasing companies consider and help us tailor a lease agreement to fit your needs.

Your Choice of Manufacturer

We don’t carry an inventory. This means you’re not limited to a specific set of manufacturers. Instead, you can pick the equipment that aligns with your business goals and preferences. We’ll work with the manufacturer of your choice to get the equipment in your facility as quickly as possible.

Maintenance & Repair Coverage

Bundle preventive maintenance and repair coverage with your lease agreement. You can spread those payments over time. Easily maintain your equipment, minimize the chances something will break down, repair instrumentation quickly, and simplify your payment processes.

End-of-Lease Options

At the end of your lease, you have multiple options. You can either renew the lease at a significantly lower price, purchase the machine outright based on the fair market value of the original pricing, or call it a day and we’ll come the pick up the equipment for you free of charge.

No Loan-Like Terms

Our leases do not include loan-like terms, which can be restrictive or harmful in certain situations. We do not require debt covenants, IP pledges, collateral,  or equity participation. Our goal is to maximize your flexibility. When you lease with us, you’re collaborating with a true business partner.

In-House Underwriting Process

Our underwriting is done in-house. You can expect quicker turnaround, allowing you respond to your equipment needs as they arise. We require less documentation than traditional lenders and financiers and can get the equipment you need in operation more quickly.