Genome Sequencing

The Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) project in the Institute for Food Safety and Health (IFSH) has been in the making for some time, and now it is entering a new stage. This project aims at offering laboratory and bioinformatics services for the food industry. Our state of the art sequencing instruments get to work when a client company from the food industry submits their samples to us or asks for our data analyses services. Our high-throughput machines massively sequence the extracted DNA from the samples, and our bioinformatics group assembles the sequences as completely as possible to have a genomic view of the micro-organism’s identity and capabilities including its potential virulence and pathogenicity.

The WGS technology has now become fast and cheap enough to efficiently replace nearly all the other methods of bacterial identification and pathogenicity assessment. The older methods used for genotyping, DNA and genetic fingerprinting or identification of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) using Pulse Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) and the Restriction Enzymes (REs) are not only slow, inefficient and uncertain but now more costly than WGS.

The WGS produces direct insight into the actual genome of the micro-organisms usually with 3-5 million data points, the size of most bacterial genomes. The WGS data are used to build a high-resolution profile of the organism(s) under study to answer questions such as: Is the organism a pathogen? Does it produce toxins? How virulent is it? Is it dangerous in any way? The WGS data can, furthermore, be applied in an evolutionary context to reliably pinpoint specific sources of an outbreak strains (i.e. farms, processing plants, food types and various geographical regions).

We are looking forward in receiving your samples and providing you with our services.

Key Staff Members and Contact Information

Project Leader, IFSH Whole Genome Sequencing Consortium, IIT
708.563.8171