Automated Plant DNA Extraction for Portable Genomic Sequencing

The Need

In the dynamic realm of space exploration, the imperative to sustain life during extended missions places a critical demand on understanding the impact of spaceflight on plant growth. Traditional DNA sequencing methods employed by NASA fall short when dealing with plant material, necessitating an innovative solution for extracting crucial genomic insights. Recognizing this commercial need, The Ohio State University team embarked on a mission to automate plant sampling for the International Space Station (ISS), addressing the constraints of space-bound resources and the unique properties of plant tissues.

The Technology

This system acts as a vital intermediary that purifies DNA solutions before feeding them into the SAMMS MiniION Sequencer. The automated procedure developed by The Ohio State University team employs a novel DNA extraction approach, minimizing steps and materials to accommodate the limitations of space. It is a pivotal advancement that resolves the inefficiencies of current NASA sequencing systems, specifically tailored to handle plant material with unparalleled efficiency. System can optimize efficiency in both space and terrestrial applications.

Commercial Applications

  • Space Agriculture: Revolutionize space agriculture by identifying plants suitable for consumption during extended spaceflights.
  • On-Site Genomic Sequencing: Extend the application to terrestrial environments, allowing on-site genomic sequencing with reduced time and effort.
  • Biomedical Research: Enhance biomedical research by facilitating rapid and efficient DNA extraction, accelerating the pace of scientific discovery.
  • Environmental Monitoring: Apply the technology to assess the impact of environmental factors on plant genetics, contributing to ecological conservation efforts.
  • Agricultural Innovation: Revolutionize agricultural practices on Earth by expediting genomic analysis for crop development and improvement.


  • Rapid Extraction: Reduce DNA extraction time from 3-4 hours to 1 minute, optimizing efficiency in both space and terrestrial applications.
  • Streamlined Process: Cut down the number of steps from 8 to 3 for DNA extraction, simplifying procedures and minimizing resource consumption.
  • Cost-Efficiency: Mitigate material costs associated with traditional plant extraction kits, avoiding the need for disposable columns and numerous reagents.
  • Labor Optimization: Minimize labor costs through automation, freeing up valuable human resources for more complex tasks.
  • Safety Enhancement: Eliminate the use of hazardous materials, promoting a safer working environment in both space and Earth-based laboratories.

Loading icon