Advancements in lab work thanks to new robot for soil DNA analysis

Healthy ecosystems are vital for biomass, food supply, diverse nature, water management, and human well-being. The EU and Flanders target healthy soils and water bodies, while the Air Policy Plan 2030 aims to cut air pollution’s health impact by 2030. Despite agricultural climate efforts, more research is needed, and rules are enforced for environmental impact reduction.

In this respect, our project partner Sofie Thijs, co-developed the NGSxpress DNA platform together with Interscience, Illumina, Oxford Nanopore, and Filterservice.

(c)CMK- Hasselt University lab and the NGSxpress DNA Platform, Sofie Thijs on the right

The DNA robot

What is this flexible, innovative NGSxpress platform, and what is its purpose?

● It is an automated robot and a long-read sequencer to further develop and expand various new and existing DNA analyses and applications;

● It addresses existing technical bottlenecks in DNA analyses: increasing efficiency, high throughput, accuracy, quality control, and customization;

● It allows for expanding services to Flemish (and international) companies and improving knowledge dissemination. It is a critical success factor for enabling a circular economy and mitigating the effects of climate change.

● With this purchase and installation, VLAIO/EFRO strengthens Flemish DNA expertise with applications in sectors such as healthcare, agriculture, soil biodiversity, and soil remediation.

(c) CMK- Hasselt University: DNA robot

This project is made possible thanks to the support from Europe (EFRO), VLAIO, University of Hasselt-the Centre for Environmental Sciences (CMK), Witteveen+Bos Belgium NV, and Vereecken Farms. Read more here.

Microbiome analysis, cultivation and evolution in the MIBIREM project

Sofie Thijs is a postdoc at Hasselt University, specializing in bioremediation, identification of bioactive compounds, and biotechnological applications. In the MIBIREM project, the Centre for Environmental Sciences (CMK) at Hasselt University is responsible for the microbiome analyses, cultivation, and evolution. In particular, it will use next-generation sequencing to identify bacteria with pollutant-degrading properties, trap and identify active pollutant-degrading bacteria, apply new approaches in cultivation, and improve selected microbial consortia by natural evolution. Lastly, CMK will monitor the microbiomes, bioaugmented strains, and consortia during field pilot tests.


Author: Sofie Thijs

Postdoc at Hasselt University

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