Breakthrough in purification of fossil pollen for dating of sediments by a new large-particle on-chip sorter


Yusuke Kasai, Christian Leipe, Makoto Saito, Hiroyuki Kitagawa, Stefan Lauterbach, Achim Brauer, Pavel Tarasov, Tomasz Goslar, Fumihito Arai, Shinya Sakuma


Particle sorting is a fundamental method in various fields of medical and biological research. However, existing sorting applications are not capable for high-throughput sorting of large-size (>100 micrometers) particles. Here, we present a novel on-chip sorting method using traveling vortices generated by on-demand microjet flows, which locally exceed laminar flow condition, allowing for high-throughput sorting (5 kilohertz) with a record-wide sorting area of 520 micrometers. Using an activation system based on fluorescence detection, the method successfully sorted 160-micrometer microbeads and purified fossil pollen (maximum dimension around 170 micrometers) from lake sediments. Radiocarbon dates of sorting-derived fossil pollen concentrates proved accurate, demonstrating the method’s ability to enhance building chronologies for paleoenvironmental records from sedimentary archives. The method is capable to cover urgent needs for high-throughput large-particle sorting in genomics, metabolomics, and regenerative medicine and opens up new opportunities for the use of pollen and other microfossils in geochronology, paleoecology, and paleoclimatology.

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