DNA-BOT: A low-cost, automated DNA assembly platform for synthetic biology

Multi-part DNA assembly is the physical starting point for many projects in Synthetic and Molecular Biology, and the ability to explore a genetic design space by building extensive libraries of DNA constructs is essential for creating programmed biological systems. With multiple DNA assembly methods and standards adopted in the Synthetic Biology community, automation of the DNA assembly process, that will enable larger builds in less time while increasing the accessible design space, is now receiving serious attention. However, these benefits currently incur high costs for both equipment and consumables.

Here, we address this limitation by introducing low-cost DNA assembly with BASIC on OpenTrons (DNA-BOT). For this purpose, we developed an open-source software package and demonstrated the performance of DNA-BOT by simultaneously assembling 88 constructs composed of 10 genetic parts, evaluating the promoter, ribosome binding site (RBS) and gene order design space for a 3-gene operon.

All 88 constructs were assembled with high accuracy, at a consumables cost of $1.50 – $5.50 per construct. This illustrates the efficiency, accuracy and affordability of DNA-BOT, making it accessible for most labs and democratising automated DNA assembly.

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