A new study published in Diagnostic Microbiology & Infectious Disease shows that Copan’s Colibrí™ instrument accurately automates sample preparation for the identification of bacteria using MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry (MS).

MALDI-TOF MS has revolutionized microbial identification in clinical labs, providing rapid and accurate identification of bacteria and yeast. MALDI-TOF uses a laser to ionize microbial samples. The time ions take to travel down a tube determines their mass and generates a protein fingerprint. This unique fingerprint is quickly matched to a database to identify bacteria, yeast, or other microorganisms. Instead of waiting days for culture results, MALDI-TOF can provide accurate identification within minutes. This enables earlier targeted treatment for infections, reducing mortality rates and costs. 

Automating a Manual Process 

MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry has become integral for rapid microbial identification in clinical laboratories. However, the process still requires tedious manual sample preparation – picking colonies, spotting onto target plates, and adding matrix. This takes approximately 30 minutes of hands-on time to prepare a whole target plate. The Colibrí™ uses a pipette tip to automate colony picking, spotting, and matrix addition, freeing up technologists’ time.

Copan’s Colibrí™ Solution: Research Into Automated Sample Prep 

Copan’s Colibrí™ workstation automates this process start to finish. The system uses pipette tip to pick colonies selected by a technologist (or by Copan’s advanced artificial intelligence, PhenomatrixTAG™, spotting them onto the target plate, and overlaying them with matrix. This frees up technologists’ time from the manual sample preparation process. 

Researchers at three laboratories evaluated the Colibrí™ by comparing it to manual sample preparation and identification using the bioMérieux VITEK MS system. 444 bacterial isolates from cultures were tested.

The study found the Colibrí™ matches manual sample preparation accuracy at 99.54%, and made the supposition that if the laboratory were to identify approximately 100 isolates per day, the laboratory could save 1.5 hours of hands-on technologist time each day. Of the organisms that gave an identification by both methods (432/444), only 2 discrepant identifications were found, one which was most likely due to a laboratory error.  12 isolates (2.7%) gave no identification with the Colibrí™, and the majority of these were Gram positive organisms, however no specific group of organisms consistently failed identification using the Colibri™.

Overall, the study demonstrates the Colibrí™ provides highly accurate automation of MALDI-TOF sample preparation comparable to manual methods. The Colibrí™ improved standardization and traceability. By reducing hands-on time needed for MALDI-TOF preperation, laboratories can realize significant time savings and efficiency gains.

Faster Results, Better Care

By reducing the labor needed for MALDI preparation, Colibrí™ allows clinical microbiology laboratories to realize the full benefits of MALDI-TOF efficiency. This improves workflow and allows technologists to spend more time on difficult tasks.   

The Colibrí™ also provides standardized sample preparation for consistent results. Together with PhenomatrixTAG™, automated colony imaging for pick point selection, the Colibrí™ enables complete sample tracking and traceability.

Copan is proud to deliver innovative solutions like the Colibrí™ that improve workflows in clinical diagnostics. This transforms MALDI-TOF from a batch process to a truly high-throughput technique, enhancing patient care through faster microbial identification. Automation frees technologists to focus on more complex tasks, supporting better stewardship of skilled labor.

By combining efficient automation with Copan’s AI-driven by PhenoMATRIX™, and high-quality consumables, the Colibrí™ helps healthcare providers maximize their investment in MALDI-TOF technology. This showcases Copan’s strengths in integrating automation with the latest innovations in clinical microbiology.


Pham, M.L., Van Horn, K., Zarate, E., Pickering, E., Murphy, C., Bryant, K. A multicenter evaluation of Copan’s ColibríTM, an automated instrument for MALDI TOF MS target application for bacterial identification. Diagnostic Microbiology and Infectious Disease, 2023. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.diagmicrobio.2023.116098