A car in every garage. A chicken in every pot. A robotics platform for every microbiome.

That is the thinking behind a new partnership announced by Opentrons, a lab automation company based in Brooklyn, NY, and Zymo Research, a life science reagent company in Irvine, CA. The two companies are collaborating to transform microbiome and metagenome analysis by fully automating comprehensive, end-to-end workflows from sample collection through library preparation. To do this, they are relying on the Flex—Opentrons’ new robot.

Although they provide important insights, traditional methods of microbiome analysis face challenges in terms of time, cost, and accuracy. The methods often demand significant labor from skilled personnel which may hinder scalability and reproducibility. Additionally, removing the more traditional tasks, some of which are monotonous and time-consuming, will enable researchers to dedicate their efforts to the analysis and interpretation of data.

The collaboration between Zymo and Opentrons, which combines Zymo chemistries with the automation capabilities of the Opentrons Flex platform, offers the advantages of enhanced throughput and the ability to perform multiple chemistries simultaneously—reducing risks like sample loss, contamination, or variability. ZymoBIOMICS DNA Kits are microbial DNA purification kits designed for purifying DNA from a variety of sample inputs that are immediately ready for microbiome or metagenome analyses.

“Automated microbiome sample prep workflows are of growing interest to our members involved in pathogen surveillance and microbiome-based therapeutic development,” noted James Atwood, general manager of Opentrons Robotics.

Opentrons was started with a mission to make automation accessible to life science researchers. In the past ten years, the company has launched their first- and second-generation robots—OT-One and OT-2. They released their latest iteration, the Opentrons Flex, just last month. The Flex robot features reconfigurable, modular hardware including swappable pipettes ranging from 1 to 96 channels, plate gripper, on-deck thermocycler, heater-shaker, magnetic plate, etc.

“Microbiome research plays a crucial role in advancing human health, agriculture, and environmental sustainability, necessitating the integration of interdisciplinary and collaborative strategies,” said Marc Van Eden, PhD, vp of business development at Zymo Research. “By streamlining and standardizing microbiome analysis through the combined use of the Opentrons Flex platform and Zymo’s chemistries, this partnership can accelerate the progress and influence of microbiome research. Consequently, this innovative approach holds the potential to unlock groundbreaking discoveries and applications in various fields as we master the microbiome.”

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