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      The use of workflows in the design and implementation of complex experiments in macromolecular crystallography

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          A powerful and easy-to-use workflow environment has been developed at the ESRF for combining experiment control with online data analysis on synchrotron beamlines. This tool provides the possibility of automating complex experiments without the need for expertise in instrumentation control and programming, but rather by accessing defined beamline services.


          The automation of beam delivery, sample handling and data analysis, together with increasing photon flux, diminishing focal spot size and the appearance of fast-readout detectors on synchrotron beamlines, have changed the way that many macromolecular crystallography experiments are planned and executed. Screening for the best diffracting crystal, or even the best diffracting part of a selected crystal, has been enabled by the development of microfocus beams, precise goniometers and fast-readout detectors that all require rapid feedback from the initial processing of images in order to be effective. All of these advances require the coupling of data feedback to the experimental control system and depend on immediate online data-analysis results during the experiment. To facilitate this, a Data Analysis WorkBench ( DAWB) for the flexible creation of complex automated protocols has been developed. Here, example workflows designed and implemented using DAWB are presented for enhanced multi-step crystal characterizations, experiments involving crystal re­orientation with kappa goniometers, crystal-burning experiments for empirically determining the radiation sensitivity of a crystal system and the application of mesh scans to find the best location of a crystal to obtain the highest diffraction quality. Beamline users interact with the prepared workflows through a specific brick within the beamline-control GUI MXCuBE.

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          Author and article information

          Acta Crystallogr D Biol Crystallogr
          Acta Crystallogr. D Biol. Crystallogr
          Acta Cryst. D
          Acta Crystallographica Section D: Biological Crystallography
          International Union of Crystallography
          01 August 2012
          17 July 2012
          17 July 2012
          : 68
          : Pt 8 ( publisher-idID: d120800 )
          : 975-984
          [a ]simpleEuropean Molecular Biology Laboratory , 6 Rue Jules Horowitz, BP 181, 38042 Grenoble, France
          [b ]Unit of Virus Host-Cell Interactions, simpleUJF–EMBL–CNRS, UMI 3265 , 6 Rue Jules Horowitz, 38042 Grenoble CEDEX 9, France
          [c ]Structural Biology Group, simpleEuropean Synchrotron Radiation Facility , 6 Rue Jules Horowitz, 38043 Grenoble, France
          Author notes
          Correspondence e-mail: brockhauser@
          gm5021 ABCRE6 S090744491201863X
          © Brockhauser et al. 2012

          This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original authors and source are cited.

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