The ability to reliably and precisely deliver picolitre volumes is an important component of biological research. Here we describe a high-performance, low-cost, open hardware pressure ejection system (Openspritzer), which can be constructed from off the shelf components. When connected to a standard micro-pipette via suitable pneumatic tubing, the device is capable of delivering minute doses of reagents to a wide range of biological and chemical systems. In this work, we characterise the performance of the device and compare it to a popular commercial system using two-photon fluorescence microscopy. We found that Openspritzer provides the same level of control over delivered reagent dose as the commercial system. Next, we demonstrate the utility of Openspritzer in a series of standard neurobiological applications. First, we used Openspritzer to deliver precise amounts of the neurotransmitters glutamate and GABA to hippocampal neurons to elicit time- and dose-precise excitatory and inhibitory responses, respectively. Second, we used Openspritzer to deliver infectious viral and bacterial agents to living tissue. Viral transfection of hippocampal interneurons with channelrhodopsin allowed for the optogenetic manipulation of hippocampal circuitry with light. Finally, we successfully used Openspritzer to infect organotypic hippocampal slice cultures with fluorescent Mycobacterium bovis bacilli. We anticipate that due to its high performance and low cost Openspritzer will be of interest to a broad range of researchers working in the life and physical sciences.
Nature Publishing Group