1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
To investigate the employment of robotics to simplify and increase efficiency of an automated system used for cryopreserving insect embryos on a mass scale.
1b. Approach (from AD-416):
To change the operation of an automated cryopreservation system whereby fluids are moved through a fixed container containing insect embryos to a system that moves containers of embryos through fixed sites of fluids used for treating embryos prior to storage in liquid nitrogen. While both systems are electronically-controlled, the use of robotic arms to execute the cryopreservation protocol can reduce the amount of liquids needed to process the embryos and cut down the circuits and computer programming required for operation of the assembly. Since many of the insects to be cryopreserved by this system are banned from the continental U.S., insects such as house flies, secondary screwworms, and green bottle blowflies will be used to test the robotic system. Testing the quality of insects cryopreserved with the robotic system will be compared to previous quality assessments conducted using automatic and laboratory systems.
3. Progress Report:
The object of this cooperative research project is to investigate the employment of robotics to simplify and increase efficiency of an automated system used for cryopreserving insect embryos on a mass scale. Specific objectives towards this end include: (1) increase accuracy and reproducibility of robot functions, especially in field conditions, (2) allowing for simultaneous processing of multiple samples, (3) simplified user interface, and (4) development of associated computer programming. In this reporting period we improved upon a simplified robotic system with a reduced footprint for the automation of insect embryo cryopreservation. This design has been optimized while working with the housefly (Musca domestica), as well as the blow fly (Lucilia sericata). For both species, successful beta testing and cryopreservation have been performed at ARS facilities in Fargo, North Dakota.