Single cell picking like a pro: MMI CellEctor

Cell Picking with the MMI CellEctor is crucial when you need to isolate individual cells (e.g. circulating tumor cells, rare cells, sperm cells etc.) for further analysis or experimentation. The open cell picker platform allows the integration of your own imaging, detection and picking protocol with automated isolation and recognition and is therefore fundamental for many research projects in pathology, oncology and forensics.


By loading the video, you agree to YouTube’s privacy policy.
Learn more

Load video

What are the benefits of the MMI cell picking system?

When every cell counts
The MMI CellEctor cell picker is crucial when precise examination of individual cells is required, even in cases of limited cell quantities. The cell picker is essential in forensics or working with rare cells like circulating tumor cells (CTCs). No contamination from unwanted cells.

Automated cell detection and picking
Use the optional MMI CellDetector AI analysis software to detect and isolate fully automated rare cells based on their color, morphology and relative size.

Unmatched precision
High-precision microfluidic cell picking robot for gentle cell transfer for the highest cell integrity and growth rates after cell transfer. Up to 100% picking/transfer efficiency of living or fixed cells.

User-defined liquid handling
Full optical control of your own workflow for automated collection and deposition of single cells in suspensions. The cell picker is compatible with a wide range of slide-based platforms including PCR tubes, IBIDI and different well plates (e.g. 96-well plate).

Isolation of single cells like a pro
With the intuitive and flexible MMI CellTools analysis software you achieve accurate and precise cell isolation and depositions. Cell picking has never been easier.

The most flexible cell picking system
The CellEctor cell picker is compatible with most inverted microscopes and fully expandable with all other MMI solutions: Laser microdissection (CellCut), whole slide imaging (CellScan) and optical trapping (CellManipulator).

What is a cell picker?

A cell picker is an automated system used to select and isolate individual cells from a heterogeneous population. Cell picking is performed for various tasks such as cell sorting and single-cell analysis (e.g. single cell genomics to understand cellular heterogeneity and gene expression at the single cell level). The use of a cell picker has significantly advanced the field of cell biology and contributed to breakthroughs in various areas of research, such as cancer biology, stem cell research, and immunology, by enabling more precise and targeted analyses at the single cell level.

The MMI CellEctor cell picking system automated the cell pickup process using a microscope-based micro-capillary sorting system. The highly precise MMI CellPump enables single cell isolation even in nanoliter volumes. Since the system is fully motorized and computer controlled, it offers complete control in manual and automated cell recognition, acquisition and deposition modes.

MMI Cell Picker

Why use a cell picking system?

Cell Picking with CellEctor

The MMI CellEctor allows researchers to isolate and manipulate desired cells without the need for complex sorting techniques like Fluorescence-Activated Cell Sorting (FACS). While FACS is efficient for high-throughput sorting based on specific markers, it may not be suitable for certain applications where the target cells are rare or require more precise selection. In such cases, cell picking with the MMI CellEctor provides a viable alternative, enabling researchers to manually choose and collect individual cells of interest.

  • Cell picking with the MMI CellEctor enables extremely gentle cell transfer for the highest cell integrity and outgrowth rates after cell transfer
  • The cell picker is Ideal for isolation in cases of limited cell quantities

What are the applications for cell pickers?

The MMI CellEctor cell picker is widely used for a range of applications, including for the isolation of rare & single cells:

  • CTC isolation and analysis
  • Recovery of spheroids
  • Sperm cell isolation
  • Protists, algae and bacteria
  • Plant cells and pollen
  • Stem cell picking
  • Living adherent cells
  • Detection and isolation of antibodies
  • Cell sorting on a wide range of biochips
  • (Micro-) Beads and other small particles
MMI CellEctor

Have a look how it works

In the following video you will see how to sort fully automated multiple particles in a 96-well format with the MMI cell picker system. During the process, you have full visual control.


By loading the video, you agree to YouTube’s privacy policy.
Learn more

Load video

How does the MMI cell picker work?

Identify | Pick | Deposit – Cell Isolation for Pros

Cell picking with the MMI CellEctor gives the user complete control in manual and automated cell identification, acquisition and deposition. The cell picking process is contamination-free and supports a broad range of sample types. The high flexibility of the cell picker enables you to define your own workflow. Just select the wells for cell picking, deposition and rinsing using a wide range of slide-based platforms.

1. Identify

Target your population using brightfield or fluorescence live imaging. Select the cell or cells (multi-selection) of interest by yourself or use the optional CellDetector analysis software to automatically identify your target cells.

2. Cell Picking

Cell Picking

The glass capillary aspirates the cell of interest. This procedure is controlled by the 3D CellRobot and the ultra-precise cell pump. Cell picking can be used in manual mode or fully automated. Adherent cells can be collected by reversing the position of the capillary and lowering it by a few microns to allow the cells to be released by scratching and pumping simultaneously.

3. Deposit

Single cells can be collected with the cell picker manually or automatically onto a wide range of slide-based platforms. The user gets full optical control throughout the whole workflow. Optional rinsing in the cleaning solution prevents carry-over effects.

CellEctor releases Cell

4. Ready for downstream analysis

PCR Strip

After collection with the cell picker, your cells are ready for a wide range of downstream applications including, FISH, IHC, ISH, Immunofluorescence and single cell PCR.

If you have any questions about the CellEctor cell picker, please feel free to contact us

Contact us now

Fully automated cell identification and cell picking

Update the cell picker with the optional MMI CellDetector. CellDetector is an artificial analysis software that automatically detects rare cells from any sample based on their color (fluorescence), morphology and relative size. Automated cell detection with CellDetector eliminates the need for time-consuming manual searching and therefore ensures optimal work away convenience. Never before has the isolation of your target cells been so effortlessly precise.

The following example shows the automatic detection of sperm cells (highlighted in red) of a vaginal swab. These sperm cells can be individually isolated for forensic DNA profiling.

Automated cell picking of sperm cells

Cell Picking with various capillaries and slide platforms

CellEctor Consumables

The MMI CellEctor cell picker is pre-configured with a broad range of slides and well-plate formats. You can sort cells even in a 96-well plate to maximize your throughput. In addition, there are multiple capillaries with different diameters available. Just use the appropriate capillary for your rare cell type.


  • 8-well µ-slides
  • 18-well µ-slides
  • 96-well µ-plates

Micro-capillaries with different diameters (normal or bent version)

  • 10 µm, 20 µm, 40 µm, 80 µm and 160 µm
Amari Baba Khalid

„„Here at the DMSZ (research group VirusInteract) it is our special emphasis to analyze the very early events of virus infection in plant tissue. Thus we first identify the initial point of plant virus infection, isolate this area with the MMI CellCut system and subsequently analyze this sample with a multi-omics approach. The MMI CellCut system is elementary for our research because it enables us to select and investigate even single infected plant nuclei. In addition we use the MMI CellEctor cell picker to collect protoplasts from liquid media to generate new plants from a single cell.”

Dr. Khalid Amari Baba Leibniz-Institut DSMZ-Deutsche Sammlungvon Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen GmbH
Nachwuchsgruppe VirusInteract (Dr. Björn Krenz)
Braunschweig, Germany

Selective isolation of adherent single cells

The isolation of adherent single cells is challenging since the adhesive forces prevent detachment and uptake of the cells. Living adherent cells can typically be detached by trypsinization, but the cells’ RNA and protein expression profile will be altered by this treatment, leading to biased transcriptomics or proteomics data.

With the ground-breaking shake mode feature, the MMI CellEctor cell picker can isolate adherent cells without compromising their viability or integrity. Thus, living adherent cells can now be selectively isolated and utilized for any downstream applications, even for sensitive RNA expression analysis. Read more about the isolation of adherent cell in our Application Note.

Isolation of Adherent Cells

Isolation of CTCs

Circulating Tumor Cell

Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are cells that have shed into the vasculature or lymphatics from primary tumors and circulated throughout the bodies via the bloodstream. Interestingly, CTCs have the ability to establish metastases in various organs. Moreover, CTCs are believed to embody complete tumor heterogeneity and reflect the mutational burden present in cancerous tumors.

Consequently, the isolation of individual circulating tumor cells is of great importance to study tumor heterogeneity, contributing to improved understanding and management of a wide range of cancer types, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, and lung cancer. The CellEctor cell picker allows the precise selection of single CTCs for subsequent analysis. Thus, the MMI cell picking system contributes to the development of personalized medicine approaches and non-invasive monitoring of cancer patients.

Monika Pizon

"At Simfo, we are interested in analyzing molecular profile of circulating tumor cells (CTCs), because CTCs reflect the real status of tumor genotypes. CTCs exhibit high heterogeneity within a patient and for this reason we analyze individual CTCs for KRAS, BRAF and EGFR mutations.

The MMI CellEctor cell picker instrument allows us to precisely select single CTCs from patient samples in order to individually analyze their genomic integrity – an important pre-requisite for our research."

Dr. Monika Pizon SIMFO Spezielle Immunologie Forschung + Entwicklung GmbH
Bayreuth, Germany

MMI CellEctor cell picker: Documents

Application Note

Selective Isolation of Adherent Single Cells

Selective Isolation of Adherent Single Cell


Pick Cells Like a Pro

CellEctor Brochure

User Manual

CellEctor User Manual

How can we support your project?

Asif Khan

David Hitrys

Ashley Remy

We’re here to help – please feel free to contact us!

Contact us.

Head Office Germany

Molecular Machines and Industries GmbH

Breslauer Strasse 2

D – 85386 Eching

+49 89 319 048 40