Method Manager is the software program that interfaces with our Lynx Liquid handling Robotic Platform. Method Manager is currently in it’s fourth major release to include the Volume Verified Pipetting (VVP) tools and is commonly referred to as MM4. MM4 is a Windows based program that operates under Windows 7 & 8, it has a base architecture of Windows .NET Framework 4.5. This new modular architecture allows MM4 the flexibility to implement new tools, interface with peripherals and add new programming shortcut buttons without the need for new firmware and complete package re-validation, this gives MM4 the ability to be customized and used quickly.
The ability of this modular architecture, combined with new VVP tools, gives each user the ability to take advantage of an easy to use, highly flexible liquid handler right out of the box.
Ridiculously Easy Setup:
Many software packages claim to have a quick setup, but leave you dealing with several work arounds to manually manipulate wizards. Who wants to do that? We sure don’t. Dynamic Devices truly offers a quick, easy setup. Method Manager 4.0 offers you a direct and simplistic way to program your methods, import files for the VVP Pipetting Tools, export your pipetting data and turn on pipetting diagnostics with re-try options.
Method Manager 4.0 Graphical Screens
Here is a simple method of transferring the same volume, 200 µL, from a 96 well source plate to the first quadrant of a 38 well plate with tip pick up and eject. This simple method will show some of the basic screen in MM4.
Choose tip size and deck location
Within the Load Tip Command, you first choose the size and type of tip you will use for the volume required. Tips range in size as 10, 50, 200, 300, 1000 & 1250 µL depending on the tip mandrel set, Low Volume or Standard Volume. All Lynx tips come in their own freestanding ‘blue’ automation box and fit on a standard microplate locator. No special tip racks or loading positions are needed, we load tips in every position.
Aspiration – Choose source plate and volume
Within the Aspirate Command, you then choose the type of plate you wish to access. Here a 96 well plate is shown where the 96 VVP head will access all the wells at once and remove the same 200 µL from each well. This plate location and type may also be a variable name if within a larger process. It is also possible to aspirate different volumes with VVP tools either manually entering volumes or loading a file. Diagnostics are also available within each tip, we will take about those below.
Dispense – Choose volume and destination plate
Within the Dispense Command, you choose the destination plate type and its location on the deck. This location and plate may also be a variable if this step is within a larger process. Here the dispense is into the first quadrant of a 384 well plate. In addition, with VVP tools, this volume may also be a different dispense volume in each well. It is also possible with the VVP tools that all the aspiration volumes may be pooled into a single location using ‘jet’ dispense mode.
Within the Eject Tip Command, you may eject the tips either back into the enclosed tip box from which the came or eject the tips over a waste shoot to run off the side of the liquid handler or through the deck itself. Ejected tips may also be re-used since our SM, Solid Mandrel, tip loading technology does not deform the tip where we can load and unload it hundreds of times. This is handy when wanting to dedicate tips for a specific reagent for the days run.
Method Manager Integrated VVP Example Applications
Below are some of the most requested questions concerning Method Manager and how it handles certain applications. With the implementation of the VVP tools, new and novel applications are now available. Applications like; Whole Plate Normalization, Whole Blood Sample and Plant/Seed Homogenate Transfers with clog/clog individual well diagnostics and on-the-fly correction, whole plate pooling with all 96 tips, selective high throughput hit picking are all now possible.
In addition, since our flagship pipetting tool, the 96 VVP, has 96 independent volumes, it it really not feasible to ask the user to manually enter 96 different volume values for each well of each plate. It is therefore necessary to import data from an external database or spreadsheet. Using MM4, we will review this and how easily it can be accomplished.
Programming Example: DNA Normalization
Below is a typical example of the Method Manager GUI, graphical user interface, using our Lynx LM900 30 position deck with a 96 VVP Pipetting Tool. Many questions arise of how each of the 96 channels get’s individual volume information in and out of the software to take full advantage of the VVP technology.
Within the Aspirate Command, you first choose the location of the plate from which you would like to remove the liquid. You may decide to name your plates within your deck, example Source 1 or Purified DNA Source, or you also may choose to name the name a variable if a robotic gripper will continually moving source plate in and out of this position in a fully automated method. A variable will allow the plate to have different volumes associated with every well and can be linked to the bar code of the plate through a database or lookup table.
Typical DNA normalization file format used to dilute purified DNA to a standard concentration based on µg/µL.
Method Manager loads up this file and dilutes the sample plate in one shot, the process including tip pickup, aspiration, dispense and eject tips is about 45 seconds. Higher throughput methods will actually have the 96VVP pick up 1250 µL tips, aspirate the full volume of water in to the tip and then multi dispense over multiple plates until the first tip empties.
Programming Example: Clot & Clog Diagnostics
Transferring challenging samples tests the real limit of a liquid handlers ability to rapidly and accurately react to a situation that would adversely affect the samples ability to enter the tip. Samples like whole blood and plant/seed homogenates are some of the most variable sample matrixes to aspirate up into a tip. VVP pipetting tools, the 96VVP and Fixed-8 VVP, allows the user to just click to turn on clot/clog diagnostics.
Since VVP is a closed loop real time measurement of the liquid entering the tip, the system can analyze the flow rate at which the sample is entering the tips and if there is any drop off of this rate over a set limit, the VVP shuts off vacuum to ONLY that individual tip. Since this is live, a clogged tip on the first try is actually visualized in the real time reporting screen.
As shown above, a clot is detected. However, the rest of the channels will continue to aspirate until complete and then the system will re-try the erred well. In this case, the head will rise out of the liquid (note: all the tips are attached to the same drive so all move up and down together, no independent Z drive) the erred sample channel will clear itself leaving the correctly aspirated channels as they are, and then re-dip the tips into the plate and re-try the erred channel as many times as programmed. Method Manager will even alter where each re-try takes place according the well definition as to not have the tip on top of the found clot material.