Make Your Own Bioreactor

As our cloning tools get more and more advanced, the next bottleneck starts to show up: strain characterization.

For metabolic engineering the chemostat cultivation is one of the most important characterization experiments. But not only are 200-1000 ml chemostats expensive to run, they are also not easy to standardize.

To increase the effectiveness of metabolic engineering research, we made a Do-It-Yourself chemostat bioreactor in the 10 ml scale.

In addition to that we want to do our bit in spreading biotechnology. At the moment professional lab equipment is not affordable for smaller institutions like schools, community labs and even small universities. If synthetic biology should be propagated in a wider public, it is necessary that its education starts early. Therefore our reactor system is DIY and inexpensive, so that it can be assembled in schools.

Aachen Reactor Overview 4.JPG
Overview over the whole system
The reactors with all tubes connected can be autoclaved while assembled and set up staying sterile afterwards
Aachen Reactor Overview 3.JPG
OD device and pump box
The system covers only little space so it can be used even in small labs

To supervise the experiments we developed the software named MasterControlProgram or MCP. A single program is used to control the individual components of the bioreactor as well as analyse the data. The MCP can incorporate various components by following the protocol laid out.

We focused on building a highly modular system. Requirements of the lab equipment can change depending on the experiment. Therefore it is not very useful to create a closed system that can do only one task. It should not matter if you need six pumps or just three analysis units or three complete reactors. With our system that is all possible and even more: The open implementation of the MCP makes it possible to easily add new components and be prepared for future requirements.