Contract M13 phage ssDNA Production

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Contract M13 phage ssDNA Production

The following outlines my recent experience with contract research. We attempted to outsource the production and purification of single-stranded DNA produced by M13 phage. It wasn't a happy experience, but hopefully someone will find this useful.

Companies Contacted

No response

Initial response promising a quote, followed by zero communication

  • Marinbio (emailed 3/8/06, 3/26/06, 4/4/06, 4/12,06. last response was 3/26/06)
  • Nature Technology Corporation (natx) - (emailed 3/2, 3/8, 3/23, 3/27, 4/3, 4/12) Shipped them a sample to begin pre-production on 3/27. Was informed that my sample was "quarantined" on 4/3, and then no further responses were received.

Response received, but not offering M13 ssDNA production

Quotes Received

Company 10 mg 20 mg 50 mg 100 mg 500 mg 1000 mg
Ocimum Bio $1,250 $3,900 $5,900 $18,500 $25,000
Fermentas$6,300 $10,200 $14,400 $25,700 $42,100
Seqwright $28,000
Lofstrand $4,000 $7,000 $12,000 $50,000 $90,000
Aldevron $16,000 $90,000
CMT $82,240+

Orders placed

We placed an order with Ocimum Biosolutions for 1000 mg of ssDNA. The contract they proposed was to deliver 100-200 mg within 14 days, 300 mg within 21 days, and the remaining 500-600 mg within 28 days. After 21 days, Ocimum was able to deliver 10 mg of highly-contaminated ssDNA (see the nice smear in the last two lanes of the gel below).

2% agarose 10 mM MgCl2
2% agarose 10 mM MgCl2
Lane Contents Loading Buffer
01kb DNA ladder (4 μL)
1Shih Lab ssDNA (1 μL)AGLB (2 μL) + dH2O (to 12 μL)
2Shih Lab ssDNA (5 μL)AGLB (2 μL) + dH2O (to 12 μL)
3Ocimum ssDNA (1 μL)AGLB (2 μL) + dH2O (to 12 μL)
4Ocimum ssDNA (5 μL)AGLB (2 μL) + dH2O (to 12 μL)


We went with the deceptively low bid, and after 3 weeks we received what would have amounted to 1/50th of what we were promised by that time, and 1/100th of our total order -- that is, if it had been clean, usable DNA. In the subsequent two weeks of extremely tedious negotiations, Ocimum refused to offer any discount or compensation, and failed to guarantee any future delivery schedule, and we were ultimately forced to cancel our order.

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