As a result of recent advancements in biotech, and the falling cost of biology tools, it's now more possible than ever for non-professionals to practice biology. Interest in biology is increasing, and with that, more and more tools are developed to make biology more accessible (hey - that sounds like Pioreactor's goal!). Tools like FieldKit, Foldscope, Openflex, and others are making the necessary scientific hardware for citizen scientists and hobbyists. And user-friendly software, for example Benchling, Mycodo, Addgene, and UniProt, make the important connection between the computer-world and the biological world. 

We designed Pioreactor to be a part of this new movement to make biology accessible. 

  • affordable: the Pioreactor has an excellent utility / price ratio. 
  • local storage: the data is stored locally on the Raspberry Pi, therefore it's always accessible and has no cloud subscription cost. 
  • customizable and extensible: the Pioreactor software is open source, and we have exposed additional input-output and features for advanced usage. The entire bioreactor is easy to assemble and disassemble: 

Below are some examples of using the Pioreactor by hobbyists:

Evolving novel microbes at home

The Pioreactor can be be used to expand the limits of microbe phenotypes. For example, yeast health declines as ethanol concentration increases, so there is a limit to how high of an ethanol concentration a beer can achieve. One solution to this problem is to evolve a yeast to be more alcohol tolerant. Using a technique like directed evolution is a simple and fast way to achieve this. 

Tracking when a sample is in its growth phase

A useful trick to get plasmids into yeast is to shock the yeast when they are stress-free and in their exponential phase, usually determined by a window of OD600 values. Even with a spectrophotometer (which can be very expensive), it's possible that you could miss when this phase occurs. This is trivial to measure growth phases and set up alerting in a Pioreactor. 

Fermentation and homebrew

Tracking the progress of vegetable lacto-ferments

The Pioreactor can be used to monitor the bacterial density and growth of lacto-ferments. This is done by using the Pioreactor as an inline sensor, with the help of a pump. Tracking the bacterial density gives you information about the state of the ferment, and by pairing multiple Pioreactors together, you can experiment with different fermentation parameters. 

Using the Pioreactor in the home yeast lab

A homebrewer can use the Pioreactor to understand lag and growth times in their yeast, test yeast viability in different environments, or even track a starter culture by using the Pioreactor as an inline sensor