Unique environmental monitoring laboratory

Sept. 8 the Estonian company BiotaP is opening a metagenomic analysis testing laboratory in Tallinn, the first environmental monitoring research centre of its kind in Europe. The development of the laboratory was co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.

The metagenomic analyses developed by BiotaP OÜ allow environmental “health” states and changes to be assessed in an efficient and simple manner. Analysis is conducted on the abundance and microbiome species diversity in soil, clean water, the air and food, among other resources.

According to member of the BiotaP OÜ management board Sirli Sipp Kulli, the laboratory has a new type of DNA sequencer supplied by Roche Lithuania, also the first of its kind in Northern and Eastern Europe. “Using this device, it is extremely easy and convenient to determine the entire genome for a bacterium in just one day, which is a Promethean leap forward for contemporary molecular microbiology,” said Sipp Kulli. “BiotaP OÜ is one of the few companies in the world that is developing metagenomic testing systems. The new laboratory creates opportunities for the company operating under the BiotaLaboratories brand name to offer new accredited sequencing services.”

The cost of establishing the laboratory was 8 million kroons, of which 3.7 million kroons came in the form of assistance from Enterprise Estonia. In December 2009 the Estonian Development Fund and private investors invested 4.7 million kroons into BiotaP OÜ.

Director of Enterprise Estonia’s Innovation Division Ilmar Pralla said that the laboratory grant programme was used to channel 38 million kroons to establish seven new experimental and semi-industrial laboratories in Estonia. “The objective of the assistance is to develop domestic testing services aimed particularly at enterprises,” explained Pralla. “The better ties businesspeople have to testing laboratories, the more capable Estonian companies will be to develop products or services that are successful on international markets.”

The goal of BiotaP OÜ is to come up with a new metagenomics-based methodology for environmental monitoring and analyzing the impact of anthropogenic factors. BiotaP conducts various basic and development research, combining classical ecology and contemporary molecular biology in the service of resolving environmental problems in a way that is unique in Estonia. The first goal for the company is to describe the metagenomic “fingerprint” of the soil in Estonian and regional ecosystems in order to create a quantitative and certifiable environmental monitoring system.

Source: Enterprise Estonia