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Us scientists live up to our Frankenstein-producing alter egos when it comes to breaking down cells.

We have almost as many ways to lyse cells as grant reviewers have of saying no.

The question we ask today is: How do you grind your cells?

Edward Scissorhands style?

Do you like to use blades to cut up your cells? Does the whirring of a blender make you feel like you are getting the most out of them?

The Waring-type blender and Polytron homogenizers are great instruments for grinding up large amounts of samples or mammalian tissue.

Like a witch?

With a mortar and pestle do you grind your cells with clouds of nitrogen vapor rising around you?

If you do, then you know that the mortar and pestle is an inexpensive way to break down plant cells, fungi, bacteria or mammalian cell pellets. You probably also have great arm muscles from all the grinding.

Make sure you have a lot of starting material though – you can lose some in the process.

Are you Jack Frost?

If you have a lot of time on your hands, then you might just freeze and thaw your samples a few times and let ice crystals do the work for you.

Although this is less efficient than other methods, it wins out for being the cheapest method for cracking open mammalian and bacterial cells.

Do you give them the old heave ho?

Do you like to push your cells around with the help of some delicate instruments? Then liquid homogenization must be your specialty.

Small volumes of cells are easily lysed by shearing forces produced by various homogenizers and French presses. Everyone has their own favorite grinding device.

Keep your samples cool though – you can generate some serious heat when you grind your cells.

Do you grind your cells DJ style?

Do you don your ear protectors and shoot some sound at your cells?

Sonication induces cavitation leading to lysis of cellular membranes. This is a great method for lysing small volumes of bacteria and fungi.

Remember to use multiple short bursts and ice baths to keep your samples cool.

Whichever way you do it, let out your inner Frankenstein and grind away!

What is your favorite way to lyse your cells?

Photo courtesy of Pascal

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