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SpiralPestle and MicroTube Grinder

The  SpiralPestle™ microtube grinder is used to homogenize culture cells and small tissue samples (<100 mg wet weight).  It is also routinely used to disperse centrifugal pellets, precipitates, and other soft solids.  The SpiralPestle is compatible with both 1.5 ml conical and 0.6 ml conical microvials.

The unique screw-like pattern on the SpiralPestle's surface actively draws 10-100 mg of soft plant or animal tissue suspended in 200 to 500 µl of extraction solution downward to the bottom of the 1.5 ml microvial where it is macerated and mechanically dispersed between the walls of the pestle and the microvial.  Tissue grinding is further enhanced by including of a pinch (~0.1 cc) of glass grinding beads.  While glass grinding beads are not needed for dispersion of pellets or precipitates, addition of SpiralPestle Grinding Beads is highly recommended for efficient cell lysis of tissue and microorganisms.  A small sample of the beads are included with your SP.

Traditional Pestle and Tube grinders are often operated by hand rotation. However, to achieve optimum homogenization efficiency, the SpiralPestle should be combined with a  BioVortexer™.  The BioVortexer is a low-cost, hand-held mixing motor drive turning at thousands of revolutions per minute.  With its greatly increased rotational speed and with the addition of grinding beads, soft tissue is completly homogenized in seconds.

Operating Instructions

Unlike traditional pestle and tube combinations, the SpiralPestle functions best with some clearance from the walls of the microtube.  This leaves space for the tissue (and beads) to be drawn downward to the bottom of the microtube by screw action of the rotating pestle.

If grinding by hand, add enough beads to fill the vial a little over the 0.1 ml mark (eye-ball accuracy is okay), add extraction media to the 0.5 ml mark and finally add the tissue or microbial sample.  Apply back and forth rotation to the pestle shaft and occasionally lift the pestle to re-capture tissue mass under the pestle.  For large tissue samples, grinding will be faster if the tissue is first prechopped into pieces less than 1 mm in cross section using a single edge razor blade or scalpel.

Using a BioVortexer to rotate the SpiralPestle makes things happen much faster.  Follow the hand-grinding protocol but be careful to avoid splashing.  It helps to not fill the microvial beyond the 1.0 ml mark and to grip the microvial by its hinged cap.  If the BioVortexer is turning too fast for your application, operate BioVortexer with only one battery, rather than two, in its handle (Questions on how to do this? 918-336-3363).

Ordering information:

  • Product No. 1017:  Package of 100 SpiralPestles and 1.5 ml Microtubes
  • Product No. 1017MC:  Prod. #1017 plus a BioVortexer stirrer (Prod. #1083)
  • Product No. 1017GB:  SpiralPestle Grinding Beads for Pestle & Microtube grinders, 100 cc in bottle with pour spout