Environment and Biodiversity

Life is all around us and it is often the things not visible to the eye that are most astonishing. At the SGS Global Biosciences Center, we focus on both the microbial world and the DNA present in all life on our planet.

Environment & Biodiversity

Soil Microbiomes

Elaborate microbiome communities exist around plant roots and protect crops and forests from drought and disease. On the flip side, bacteria, viruses and fungi also pose a threat to many of the plants we rely on. We help you understand microbe-plant interaction to increase crop yields and resistance to disease, help forests become more resilient to fire, increase carbon sequestration and reduce flood risk.

Reducing Pollution

The microbes in water and soil are excellent natural recyclers and provide nutrients for plants. Microbes can also be ‘trained and stimulated’ to recycle and clean up contaminations, like oil-spills, mining waste or even plastics. We help you explore the use of bacteria and fungi for bioremediation as a solution for addressing the increasing levels of pollution around our planet.

DNA Analysis

Microbial communities are ideally studied through NGS, which entails parallel sequencing of DNA from multiple species. This same technique can be applied to the DNA of other organisms like insects, mammals, amphibians, fish, plants, etc. We develop services that center around the collection and analysis of the DNA these organisms shed to their surroundings, called environmental DNA (eDNA).

Snippets of eDNA are sequenced and compared to databases to infer the species present in an area. This can be done on almost any sample (soil, water, air, surface-swabs, etc.) and provides a huge advantage to determine biodiversity compared to conventional methods. We help you monitor rare and evasive species, which we can identify in our lab in days, rather than weeks of infield observations by specialized taxonomists. eDNA even opens our eyes to those species that are difficult to observe but which are so very important, such as insects, plankton and fungi.

eDNA Applications

Our eDNA services include:

  • Marine and aquatic biodiversity surveys
  • Terrestrial biodiversity surveys and monitoring
  • Pests and invasive species monitoring
  • Plant-pollinator relationship studies

Furthermore, we aim to integrate eDNA and (soil) microbiome services into:

  • Soil optimization studies
  • Ecosystem and natural capital services
  • Natural carbon sequestration projects
  • Forest management