Who Support the Annual SIVB Meeting

We Vitro might just look like a large re-usable vessel – however, the vessel is really the core of a multi-functional modular growth system. We Vitro is the “Swiss Army knife” of Tissue Culture. By using the same “shell” vessel for a variety of growth methods (semisolid, passive liquid for shoot or root development, agitated liquid, and temporary immersion) We Vitro reduces equipment costs. The add-on modules can cover myriad growth needs of a wide variety of species or recalcitrant genotypes. 

The We Vitro vessel is around 4 times the length of a Magenta Box and similar in width and height with dimensions of 25x10x8cm and an internal volume of 1.3 liters. It features two ventilation patches with a large surface area for excellent gas exchange and for the escape of excess humidity and ethylene. The crystal-clear lid is great for observations and monitoring, and the vessel has stabilizing feet that allow airflow and cooling under and between vessels and the vessels to be stacked high without falling. By stacking, some labs have increased storage capacity by threefold. 

We Vitro currently offers two modules for liquid growth with another on its way soon. The first is the Root Stand – it is a scaffold that holds shoots upright while developing roots in liquid media and saves hours of time by eliminating the need to wash gel off roots – the scaffold easily slides apart to prevent root damage. Data available in Shukla et al. 2019.

The Gravity Well is the second liquid module and is completely novel to plant tissue culture. The plastic insert is placed in the vessel and holds 100mL of liquid media in its reservoir completely passively. The reservoir emits a very thin ~1mm layer of liquid media. This thin layer has an excellent surface area to volume ratio, ensuring high oxygen diffusion, and reducing hypoxia for the submerged tissue. The thin layer also means that only a small amount of shoot tissue is submerged. The majority of the plant tissue remains aerial, similar to using a paper bridge with liquid media. The Gravity Well’s design features reduce the drawbacks of liquid culture (submersion, hypoxia), without requiring the expensive and complicated TIS controller systems. It requires no valves, tubing, pumps, motors, timers or filters. It is autoclaved in place with the vessel, then simply tilted to fill the reservoir and is reusable many times. Liquid culture couldn’t get any easier! To try the Gravity Well and Root Stand, please visit the We Vitro website. 

We Vitro also has prototypes of two more modules that some readers may have already tried. One is a secondary lid to the vessel with built-in, spectra-optimized LED lights that are dimmable from 10-100umol/m2s. These lids allow thousands of culture vessels to be stacked in a very small space with perfect light uniformity. The development of this module was inspired by Shukla et al. 2017 which highlighted the gross non-uniformity of fluorescent lighting (up to 3-fold differences in magnitude from corner to center).

The second prototype system enjoyed by many customers already is the MicroRocker. A digitally programmable TIS system on a small scale. One MicroRocker holds five vessels, and with four low-cost units, one can easily optimize immersion time. With 16 low-cost one can design a 4×4 factorial optimization experiment with ease.  Prototypes are available by request only, please use the contact from on the We Vitro website. Data for the MicroRocker and Gravity Well available in Piunno 2019. 

Where did We Vitro come from? Development began in 2015 at the University of Guelph’s GRIPP Lab by undergraduate student Kevin Piunno and Dr’s Jones, Shukla, and Saxena. At the 2017 SIVB annual meeting in Raleigh, NC, Kevin presented prototypes of the early We Vitro system and won first place in the student poster competition. In 2018, We Vitro was incorporated and began sales online and attended SIVB as an exhibitor. In 2020 We Vitro was acquired by Chicago-based Magenta LLC. – the makers of the ubiquitous Magenta Box. With the acquisition of We Vitro, and continued support and tissue culture expertise of Kevin Piunno, Magenta aims to reinvigorate their plant tissue culture sector, and continue to develop novel, efficient and useful tools for PTC researchers. 

Shukla M.R., Piunno K., Saxena P.K., Jones A.M.P. (2019) Improved in vitro rooting in liquid culture using a two piece scaffold system. Eng Life Sci. 126-132

Shukla M.R., Singh A.S., Piunno K., Saxena P.K., Jones A.M.P. (2017) Application of 3D printing to prototype and develop novel plant tissue culture systems. Plant Methods. 13:6

Piunno K., (2019) 3D printing for the development and evaluation of three novel liquid media systems for plant tissue culture [master’s thesis] University of Guelph.

Submitted by Kevin Piunno
Founder, We Vitro


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