Background: In plant transformation, method compliance is critical for success. Transformation methods are complicated and tend to evolve over time. Until the complete method is published, method details are often partially orally transmitted and thus bound to a few people. Their documentation in text files are often a mixture of material and method description with many references to other sources especially to media description. These media are complex and often composed from several commercially available mixtures plus individually prepared stocks. The actual transformation experiment is generally documented in lab books, in which deviations from the methods and results are reported. Additionally, work schedules are planned in diaries. Both paper-based sources lack backup copies and miss unambiguous links to method descriptions and media recipes.
Description: To solve the problem, we devised a standard-operation-procedure system based on a Microsoft Access database containing the interlinked modules 'Media', 'Methods' and 'Experiments'. The Media module contains all basic chemicals, stocks and complex media. In this module, complex media are composed from other elements of the Media module, thus mimicking the workflows of media preparation in the lab. The Media module is made attractive to the user by functions that generate file cards and labels. The Methods module describes each method stepwise and links the steps to the media. Copy functions allow cloning of old methods to document method evolution without alteration of the old methods. Activation and inactivation functions in the Media and the Methods module remove outdated entries from active use. The Experiments module links the method to experiment specific information. This module generates a lab-book like user interface and a work schedule, and it contains a simple result section.
Conclusion: The system has been evolved and tested over several years in a transformation service unit, where it increased efficiency. Additionally, the system provided rapid access to data for quality control and decision making. The system can be easily modified for the use in other research environments.