Customer Spotlight: Naturalis Biodiversity Center

Naturalis Biodiversity Center

Naturalis Biodiversity Center is the Dutch national research institute for biodiversity. Working with one of the largest natural history collections in the world, our researchers work on describing, monitoring and understanding biodiversity. Together with three other partner institutes (University of Amsterdam, University of Twente, and the Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute), Naturalis started the ARISE program. The ARISE program aims to build an infrastructure that can be used to identify and monitor all multicellular species in the Netherlands, using various innovative methods such as image and sound recognition, as well as DNA barcoding and metabarcoding of environmental samples.

Implementation

An important goal of the ARISE program is to create a DNA reference collection and sequence library for all Dutch biodiversity, to assist in the discovery of new species, interpretation of environmental samples and set up targeted monitoring of diversity. Several teams across the different partner institutes are working hard on collecting, identifying, photographing, sampling and sequencing as much as possible of the circa 45,000 species known for the Netherlands, as well as integrating the specimens into the institutional collections and capturing as much metadata as possible in the databases.

In the laboratories at Naturalis Biodiversity Center, we aim to perform DNA barcoding for 300,000 specimens, as well as metabarcoding thousands of environmental samples. With such a large scope and scale, upgrading the laboratory workflows to include the latest developments in both lab hardware and bioinformatics, is a must.

biodiversity

Challenges

The main challenges lie in the optimization of workflows to reduce hands-on time for technicians by automating many steps in the process, as well as reducing costs and throughput times. Reducing the costs in the laboratory workflow can be achieved in different ways. Automating steps in the DNA extraction, PCR amplification and sequencing library preparation will allow for more efficient use of consumables. We were mainly looking for ways to reduce the plastic waste from single-use consumables, such as pipette tips. But also for new equipment that would help us to work accurately in smaller volumes, further decreasing costs by miniaturizing the reactions, as reagents are often the most expensive part of some of the laboratory processes.

Benefits of using the I.DOT MINI

Using the I.DOT MINI has helped in several ways. First, it helps in scaling down the reaction volumes for PCR amplification and sequencing library preparation, which significantly reduces the costs of reagents needed, especially with a projected throughput of hundreds of thousands of samples. On the other hand, it will reduce the need for disposable pipette tips, which will also help reduce our environmental footprint. The relative ease of use will also allow us to easily adopt the I.DOT MINI in various other projects which can benefit from reductions in reagent volumes.

 

I.DOT MINI_automated liquid handler

Learn more about how Natuarlis Biodiversity Center cobtributes to the preservation of biodiversity.

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