TeselaGen helps you manage your automated lab by keeping careful track of essential materials needed to develop products that will make the world a healthier, happier place. In this article, we explain the difference between the idea of a 'Material' and the physical appearance of a 'Sample' and its use as an 'Aliquot' in a reaction or transformation. The diagram below sketches this relationship, which is similar to the one between 'Reagents, 'Reagent Lots', and 'Additives'.
Note that some materials are special! Certain biological materials carry information derived from deoxyribonucleic (DNA) acid sequences or their daughter amino acid (AA) sequences. In these cases, there is another level in the hierarchy (Sequences) for materials like Plasmids, Proteins, Microbial Strains, and Cell Lines.
Let's take a look at how this is represented in the platform. We will use Protein Materials as our example. In the screenshot below we show the Protein Materials table, accessed via Materials > Protein Materials.
You can upload new protein materials one at a time via the 'New Protein Material' button or in bulk using the 'Upload' dialog.
If you choose to use the 'New Protein Material' dialog, you will be asked to assign an amino acid sequence currently in the database to the material, so be sure to have loaded your library of sequences before creating protein materials from them.
Note: In order to upload amino acid sequence beforehand, you can to go Materials > Amino Acid Sequences and upload sequences by either,
- Uploading via a formal File Formats (.gb, .fasta, etc.)
- Uploading via CSV files by first downloading a template (.csv)
- Pasting in a sequence
If you choose to use the 'Upload' dialog, you can submit all of the information for any number of proteins, including the AA information, all at the same time. A convenient downloadable template is accessed via the 'Download Template' button.
Now we get to Samples. We know Samples are somehow related to Materials but how, and why the distinction?
You can think of a Material as being the somewhat abstract idea of a biological entity, and a Sample as the real deal, the physical thing that actually exists. This is a particularly useful distinction when we get automated tracking of complex reactions and workflows. We can set things up virtually, but only create and store things like chemical reaction products, or transformed bacteria, once the reaction or transformation has occurred and the sample exists in the real world with a real trackable location in inventory.
So that's nice, but how do we create a Protein Sample?
Go to Inventory > Samples to view the Samples table.
Create a new Human Insulin sample by selecting 'New Sample'. Name your sample and type 'Insulin' into the Material select field. Note that you can both search and select in this field.
Input a volume and concentration (mass if a dry sample) and Submit.
Now, if we go to the Sample table view and use the search bar to search for "Insulin" we see that our new 'Human Insulin Sample' has been registered in the system.
Now we get to aliquots. It turns out, that once we have registered a sample in the system, it has created an aliquot for it at the same time! If you click into the 'Human Insulin Sample' for example, the record view will show you information about the sample as well as the aliquot associated with that sample.
If you click into the aliquot record view you can assign the aliquot to a plate or tube using 'Assign Aliquot'
Use the 'Assign Aliquot' button to place the aliquot in a tube
go to tube record view to see the volume in the tube
Place the tube in a location using 'Move Tube'.
Note that most of the movements and assignments outlined in this article can be done automatically when we use them in automated workflows. Our purpose here is to give you a feel for the structure and hierarchy of the sample and inventory management system so you will know what is going on behind the scenes when you run various workflows!