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A Priorclave Steam Autoclave: A Lab Tool for Conservation

The more broadly we can distribute good tools and sound methods, the more likely we are to find sustainable answers. We don’t yet fully understand all of the harms we’ve caused to our planet over the course of human history. And we may be almost out of time to figure it out. That’s why we feel so much urgency to be sure we’re providing the best possible steam autoclave to support research that seeks to mitigate environmental harms. 

The Huntington Botanical Gardens is a world-class research and educational conservatory near Los Angeles. It has one of the largest collections of plants in the world. Over the years, they’ve risen to be global leaders in conservation. This includes developing both living collections and long-term banking for plants that have gone extinct (or run the risk of extinction) in the wild. More importantly, the Huntington works to share their findings and methods as broadly as possible. In recent years, they’ve expanded ambitious programs, working with botanists globally to train them in developing original tissue culture protocols. These can then be used to preserve samples and conduct new research at their home institutions.

But even a very well understood challenge—like preserving plant samples—is full of challenges. Every plant is different, and so is every sample preservation protocol. “Protocols aren’t at all transferable,” explains Sean Lahmeyer, a botanist at the Huntington. “It doesn’t matter that they’re both aloes, or from the same country. They have these specialized habitats, soils, nutrient preferences, that they’ve been with for millions of years.” 

A Steam Autoclave that Saves Botanical Heritage (and Money)

Working with three different rare aloe plants, the staff at the Huntington developed original tissue culture protocols and cryopreservation protocols. Their techniques made it possible to “dissect a shoot tip, freeze it in liquid nitrogen” and reliably get new growth after thawing. 

steam autoclave for biological conservation

Biological conservation at the Huntington relies on their steam autoclave

To develop these original protocols, the Huntington relies on their 100L front-loading Priorclave autoclave. They run multiple cycles each week, preparing media for hundreds of individual explants so researchers can tinker, optimizing the growing media mix and protocol for each species or subspecies.

At the Huntington, time and natural resources are at a premium. Unsurprisingly, the folks who dedicate their lives to preserving the ecosphere in case of environmental apocalypse don’t want to be part of the problem. That means choosing the most efficient machine with the most reliable results. Lahmeyer’s lab had previously relied on a larg, steam-jacketed general-use autoclave (the sort used in hospitals and other medical settings). But that sterilizer was resource-intensive and slowed their work. “Everything about it was expensive . . . We kinda made it work … [for] about a decade, kept it limping along.” 

Switching to a research-ready non-jacketed Priorclave was an immediate improvement. “It doesn’t take forever to warm up. We can all get what we need to do done. The cycles aren’t that long, and that really helps us. The other unit, we’d have to schedule more, because it took forever to warm up.”

Priorclave supports the Huntington’s work conserving the rarest plants in the world. We’re proud to help their lab make sustainable choices that produce reliable results, every day. Contact us about finding the right Priorclave for your lab.