Centrifugo-thermopneumatic fluid control for valving and aliquoting applied to multiplex real-time PCR on off-the-shelf centrifugal thermocycler†
We introduce microfluidic automation of geometrically multiplexed real-time PCR to off-the-shelf Rotor-Gene Q thermocyclers (RGQ, QIAGEN GmbH, Hilden, Germany). For centrifugal fluid control the RGQ provides low and constant rotation of 400 rpm, only. Compatibility to this very limited flexibility of centrifugal actuation is achieved by using thermal gas compression and expansion for valving and aliquoting. In contrast to existing thermo-pneumatic actuation, centrifugo-thermopneumatic (CTP) fluid control employs the induced change of partial vapor pressure by global temperature control as actuation parameter for two new unit operations: CTP siphon valving and CTP two-stage aliquoting. CTP siphon valving was demonstrated to reliably transfer sample liquid in all cases (n = 35) and CTP two-step aliquoting transfers metered aliquots of 18.2 ± 1.2 μl (CV 6.7%, n = 8) into reaction cavities within 5 s (n = 24). Thermal characteristics of CTP two-stage aliquoting were found to be in good agreement with an introduced analytical model (R2 = 0.9876, n = 3). A microfluidic disk segment comprising both new unit operations was used for automation of real-time PCR amplification of Escherichia coli DNA. Required primers and probes were pre-stored in the reaction cavities and a comparison with reference reactions in conventional PCR tubes yielded the same PCR efficiency, repeatability, and reproducibility.