WASP Touch and ProtoCOL

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Date: 11th May 2021

The UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH), an independent research institute that carries out environmental science across water, land, and air, recently purchased a WASP Touch spiral plater and a ProtoCOL from Don Whitley Scientific.

Dr Lindsay Newbold from the Molecular Ecology research group of UKCEH was kind enough to give us a review of their experiences with this equipment.

We’re using WASP and ProtoCOL to investigate the levels of antimicrobial resistant bacteria with wastewater treatment works as a part of a large water industry funded research project. This involves the direct culturing of bacteria from wastewater samples, onto chromogenic agar selecting for Escherichia coli. Colonies grown on agar plates containing an antibiotic and control non-antibiotic plates, are then enumerated using the ProtoCOL.

The biggest advantage of the WASP Touch is the ability to dispense multiple samples with a standard sample volume and spread. This level of reproducibility would not be possible using traditional microbiology techniques. We have found that this significantly decreases the time taken for each sample, whilst increasing inter-sample reproducibility. The use of the automated colony counter has dramatically reduced lab time and using automated protocols on the ProtoCOL has avoided inter-individual error that you would expect to see if data are collected by multiple users. Such time savings and increased accuracy has enhanced the confidence we have in our results.”

Dr Newbold found the WASP Touch touchscreen “easy and adaptable” for her requirements. When asked about using the spiral plating module, she said: “initially we struggled to get the spiral plating module to accurately read log fold dilutions with the chromogenic agar that we are commonly using. However, we set up a custom protocol which counts the colonies directly from a specified area. Then use the counting tables to calculate CFU per ML.”

With regards to setting up a template on the ProtoCOL, Dr Newbold said “this was self-intuitive, which meant that it was possible to generate a standard protocol easily without a lot of time reading the manual. Since using the ProtoCOL we have set up numerous templates for different protocols and have found the adaptability of the software to be very useful. It is much quicker than manual counting and the images produced are superior to a standard camera. The enumeration software also means that it is much quicker and consistent to count multiple plates and replicates. We also really appreciate having a high-quality digital record of each plate, which help improve the traceability of our data and allows for re-analysis if needed.

A huge thank you to Dr Lindsay Newbold for taking the time to talk to us and we look forward to continuing to support UKCEH throughout their use of the WASP Touch and ProtoCOL devices.

Dr Lindsay Newbold
Molecular Ecology Department
The UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH)


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