Micro sequential injection: fermentation monitoring of ammonia, glycerol, glucose, and free iron using the novel lab-on-valve system
Using an integrated lab-on-valve manifold in a microfluidic sequential injection format (μSI), automated sample processing has been developed for off-line and on-line monitoring of small-scale fermentations. Spectrophotometric assays of ammonia, glucose, glycerol, and free iron were downscaled to use micro-quantities of commercial reagents. By monitoring the reaction rate, the response curves in a stopped-flow mode generate linear calibration curves for ammonia [r2 = 1.000 (0.9% SE)], glycerol [r2 = 0.999 (1.1% SE)], glucose [r2 = 0.999 (1.1% SE)], and free iron [r2 = 0.999 (1.5% SE)]. Since sample dilution and reagent quantities are easily adjusted within the programmable SI format, the lab-on-valve system can accommodate samples over a wide concentration range (ammonia: 3–1200 ppm; glycerol: 20–120 ppm; glucose: 35–1000 ppm; and free iron: 80–400 ppm). This work demonstrates the key advantages of miniaturization through the reduction of sample and reagent use, minimizing waste and providing a compact yet reliable instrument. The lab-on-valve manifold uses a universal hardware configuration for all analyses, only requiring changes in software protocol and choice of reagents. All of these features are of particular importance to small-scale experimental fermentation where multiple analyte analyses are needed in real-time using small sample volumes. It is hoped that this first real-life application of the lab-on-valve manifold will serve not only as a model system to downscale assays in a practical fashion, but will also inspire and promote the use of the integrated μSI manifold approach for a wider range of biotechnological applications.