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) changing the current fluid movement system to a sample movement system, (2) adapt the robotic arm system to other insect species in accordance with customer needs, (3) develop an improved robotic arm system with a simplified design, reduced footprint, and lower cost. In this reporting period we developed a simplified robotic arm system for the automation of insect embryo cryopreservation. The initial design was optimized for housefly (Musca domestica) cryopreservation, with successful beta testing of the unit at ARS facilities in Fargo, North Dakota. A second design was optimized for the Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata) with successful beta testing conducted in Seibersdorf, Austria under a Materials Transfer Agreement with the IAEA Insect Pest Control Laboratory.