Cryoprotectant-free preservation of bacteria using semi-spherical drops

Jian Wern Ong, Zhixiong Song, Hassan Ali Abid, Eric Shen Lin, Oi Wah Liew, Tuck Wah Ng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Cryopreservation is a widely used long-term preservation method to ensure the quality and vitality of microbes in laboratories and biological resource facilities. However, freeze-thaw damage and osmotic pressure changes during cryopreservation adversely impacts microbial survival. Significant expenditure of resources and expertise are required to select the right cryoprotectant and optimize its concentration for maximum survival of diverse microorganisms. This work describes a cryopreservation method that obviates the need for cryoprotectants by exploiting the unique thermal characteristics of semi-spherical drops. Here, a plurality of these drops, each 10 μl in volume, created on a highly non-wetting flat-sheet substrate with holes and frozen at −70 °C. Deriving an f (x) metric as a measure of relative viability, storage in drops in the absence of cryoprotectants was found to improve the survivability of Staphylococcus epidermidis by 1.91 times compared with the same sample stored in larger 50-μl volumes in standard 1.5-ml tubes. This also compares well with a value of 2.33 obtained with standard preservation with cryoprotectant. The drop method allows high throughput aliquoting of the bacterial culture into multiple discrete drops using multichannel pipettes or automated liquid handlers and the edges of the holes provides a pinning action that holds the drop stably against gravitational roll-offs. It also allows samples to be removed in discrete small volumes, thus, reducing the number of freeze thaw cycles and associated cell damage. The flat-sheet architecture of the substrate reduces the amount of plastic waste generated and augments green laboratory practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-101
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


  • Bacteria
  • Biobanking
  • Cryopreservation
  • Cryoprotectant
  • Drops
  • dry ice
  • Staphylococcus

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