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Maelstrom Nucleic Acid Extractors: Use cases and applications

Discover an easy-to-use, time-saving solution for labs 

What is a nucleic acid extractor? 

A nucleic acid extractor is an automated solution to a time-consuming, error-prone manual workflow. It helps prevent errors, and cross-contamination, and can process 48 to 96 samples in one hour (Maelstrom 4810 and 9610, respectively). 

TANBead automated extraction uses magnetic rods to collect and transfer magnetic beads and rotating spin tips to mix the suspension efficiently. Purified nucleic acids can be obtained after cell lysis, absorption, wash, and elution.

What applications do the Maelstrom 4810 and 9610 serve? 

The Maelstrom nucleic acid extractors and the appropriate reagent kits are useful to a broad audience. One way you can look at it is to study the application of nucleic acid extraction. For example, it can be used in food testing and ensuring products are free of contaminants from farm to table. 

Nucleic Acid Extraction Applications 

Here are a few industry-use cases and applications across a variety of fields including food safety, animals, plants, forensic, and environmental testing.

Food & Beverage

Equipped with nucleic acid turn-key extraction solutions, authorized bodies (national laboratories, inspection services, fraud control services) can take samples from food providers (factories, restaurants, supermarkets) and accurately test them for possible non-compliance in the cold chain, GMO content, pathogen contaminations (bacteria, virus), food fraud, and so forth. Conversely, industries such as breweries and dairies can identify beneficial microorganisms they may need. 

Veterinary Medicine 

Nucleic acid extraction can also be used in the veterinary sector. Veterinary molecular diagnostics primarily focus on identifying and genotyping pathogens. Early diagnostics and detection of infected or sick animals remain among the first steps for establishing effective disease prevention and control strategies. Aside from pathogen detection, TANBead products are suitable for:

  • Selective breeding.
  • Precision medicine in pet medical treatment.
  • Animal quarantine/husbandry/aquaculture management.

Plant Science 

Universities, academic research labs, plant breeding companies, national reference labs, and government institutions all obtain high-quality yields of nucleic acids from seeds, leaves, and roots. 

Nucleic acid extraction is a crucial first step in creating varieties with enhanced disease resistance properties, selecting abiotic stress-resistant crops, fruit and vegetable organoleptic quality enhancement, seed genetic homogeneity testing, and intellectual property control of new varieties. 


High purity DNA is also required for downstream forensic applications such as human identification and other experiments for forensic science. Biological forensics evidence includes diverse samples, such as human blood, semen, hair follicles, nails, and other contact surfaces found at a crime scene. 


Environmental DNA or eDNA is part of the nucleic acid information collected from the environment. These include animals, microorganisms, pathogens, and biological residues found in nature, such as hair, skin particles, excrements, bacteria, viruses, or any samples that can be collected from air, land, or water. 

These collected eDNA fragments are useful for monitoring biodiversity, ecosystem function, and fisheries resources. In effect, it’s useful for soil analysis, water analysis, and environmental analysis. Nucleic extraction is also used for virus analysis such as COVID.  

What problems does nucleic acid extraction solve? 

Regarding the specific problem nucleic extraction solves, it’s fair to say that its use is far-ranging and fairly complex across the board. Below, you’ll see the issues of manual extraction and the benefits of automating the step:

Contamination risk

As with all manual pipetting workflows, manual purification bears the risk of carryover from sample to sample. Multichannel pipetting may reduce this risk, but it is only feasible for plate-based protocols. Even with multichannel pipetting, errors can occur when processing relatively large sample numbers over multiple rounds due to fatigue.

Scaling issues 

Tube-format protocols limit the number of tubes lam members can process simultaneously in a centrifuge and other necessary equipment. 

Using smaller batches to process large sample numbers is a common workaround, but this is slow and requires a lot of manual effort. Thus, not a viable option for large-scale operations.

Manual errors

In addition to sample carryover, manual protocols are prone to other errors. Picture this: you’ve labeled 36 sample tubes, and halfway through, the labels disintegrate when you sanitize your workspace. A simple scenario such as this can ruin an experiment and be challenging and expensive to fix.  

Time constraints 

A short incubation step and a brief centrifuge spin leave a limited walk-away time per run, and processing samples in batches is even more time-consuming. By embedding purification into your lab’s workflow, you can help your staff spend their time on more value-driven activities. 

What are the alternatives to Maelstrom nucleic acid extraction solutions and how do they compare?

One big difference is Maelstrom’s patented whirl spin technology which can increase the processing volume by 60%. The spinning method also allows for a greater probability of the magnetic beads contacting and absorbing the nucleic acid. The fact that the mixing technology uses a rotary apparatus to control the speed, allows for the avoidance of liquid splashing during extraction and thereby, no cross-contamination.

Another point of difference is that the Maelstrom unit is a plug & go system. There no tools required to set it up and it’s as easy as powering on the instrument, following the easy-to-navigate menu and getting started. Furthermore, the Maelstrom system is open, meaning that other reagent kits can be used. Other units offer closed systems. That may not be a big deal for some labs, but open systems provide them with options. Moreover, the reagent kits provided are pre-filled and ready to use, which saves time, removes potential errors, and helps with reproducibility. 

To download the instrument comparison sheet, and see how the Maesltrom units stand out, click TANBead – M9610 and TANBead – M4810

Ready to learn more about Maelstrom’s nucleic acid extraction solutions? 

We’re always happy to help answer your questions.  Read about the TANBead – M9610 & Reagent Kits and the  TANBead – M4810 & Reagent Kits, or get in touch.

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