Skip to main navigation Skip to main content
The University of Southampton
Structural Biology Part of Biological Sciences

Macromolecular Crystallisation Facility

The Macromolecular Crystallisation Facility within Biological Sciences and part of the Southampton Diffraction Centre (SDC) provides a pipeline of robotics to carry your biomolecule through crystallisation, optimisation using bespoke screen designs and crystal imaging using state of the art UV detection to distinguish biomolecules from salt. Data collection is carried out either in-house at the SDC or at synchrotron facilities at Diamond near Oxford, or Grenoble. Data processing and structure refinement here in Biological Sciences completes the story.

To submit samples for crystallisation, please complete the sample submission form below and email it to Chris Holes . Regular users can be trained on the Gryphon drop setter.

Useful Downloads

Crystallisation Pipeline

The Gryphon drop setter
The Gryphon drop setter

Gryphon Nanodrop Setter

The Art Robbins Gryphon system initiates the crystallisation process by blending biomolecule with precipitant screens in 96-well format. Standard commercial screens covering a vast range of common crystal conditions are tested first. For biomolecules with successful literature conditions available, the Alchemist below designs and prepares bespoke screens.

The drop setter can be used for microseeding and additive screens and can dispense volumes from 100nL to 100μL.

Full Service. We offer the capability to pipet crystallisation screens into 96well low profile plates (currently MRC SwisSci 3-drop UV plate or 3-drop UV Intelliplate). The price includes use of standard screens that we hold in the facility, e.g. Morpheus, JCSG+, PACT Premier etc.

Self Service. Users that have a deep well block optimization screen or supply their own screen may choose this option.

The charges for using the Gryphon are detailed in Facility Charges under CfBS: Macromolecular Crystallisation Facility - Nanodrop Plate Full Serv or Nanodrop Plate Self Serv.

The Rigaku Alchemist
The Rigaku Alchemist

Alchemist Custom Screen Designer

The Rigaku Alchemist system allows the design and preparation of bespoke screens to be used in the crystallisation your biomolecule centred on successful initial crystallisation conditions. The design process covers the initial condition and arrays each component to identify the single condition that yields the best quality crystals for X-ray diffraction and structure determination.

Exact formulation is achieved through a combination of a dispense volume range of 1μL to 10mL, Tapper technology and no cross-contamination due to the use of the Birdfeeder system.

We offer the capability to design custom crystallisation screens. These are pipetted out, typically 96x1.2 ml, into Nunc DeepWell blocks. The facility provides a maintained stock-base of over one hundred buffer solutions for use. If there are special buffer requests that we cannot cover, we would contact the user and ask them to provide this buffer.

The charges for using the Alchemist are detailed in Facility Charges under Biological Sciences: Macromolecular Crystallisation Facility - Screen Design Fullserv.

The Rigaku UV Minstrel

UV Minstrel Crystal Imager and Gallery

The Rigaku Minstrel and Gallery system images crystals in a completely automated fashion. Crystal plates are stored stacked in the gallery and loaded at regular time intervals for imaging using a built in microscope and camera. The system images at visible and UV wavelengths enabling differentiation between biomolecule and salt crystals.

All images are stored associated with their plate and well locations along with the all important screen conditions.

We offer access to automatic imaging of crystallisation plates with a defined or a custom inspection schedule. Images are stored on the server and can be accessed via a web interface. Backup of the images is not provided.

The charges for using the crystal imagers are detailed in Facility Charges under Biological Sciences: Macromolecular Crystallisation Facility - Imager full serv.

Facility usage advice

1)    We provide access to the facility, use of the robotics and access to the chemicals/buffer stocks base. For setting up crystallisation experiments, please apply separately for technical assistance at the level 2B (contact finance or the facility for details).
2)    Please apply separately for use of the Diffraction Facilities through Chemistry.
3)    Please acknowledge the facility in publications: “We thank the Macromolecular Crystallisation Facility within Biological Sciences, part of the Southampton Diffraction Centre.”

Privacy Settings