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Technologies and research related services

 

 

 

Genomics

The genomics platform is housed by the Sequencing Genotyping and Oligonucleotide (SEGOLIP) unit which undertakes genome scale sequencing, genotyping and oligonucleotide services. With the only next-generation, high output sequencing machines in eastern and central Africa, the genomics platform avails cutting-edge genome sequencing and analysis technology previously unavailable to regional scientists. The research capabilities of the genomics platform include: pathogen detection, diagnostics, metagenomics, transcriptomics, gene expression analysis, viral genomics, molecular breeding and genotyping.

Since 2009, the platform has provided simple sequence repeat (SSR)-based genotyping services and data-analysis support for crop and livestock research. The capacity has since been enhanced to offer an innovative high-density, high-throughput integrated genotyping service and support (IGSS) on the Illumina platform.

Bioinformatics

The bioinformatics platform leverages the genomics platform to provide advanced computational services, data storage, bioinformatics support and high-performance computing services to national agricultural research system scientists and other external users.

The platform handles tens of thousands of molecular data and statistical analysis transactions, and has generated hundreds of terabytes of data since its inception. The modular architecture of the computing infrastructure lends itself well to addressing informatics problems of increasing size, scope and complexity.

Nutrition analysis and mycotoxin diagnostics

The BecA-ILRI Hub has established a nutritional analysis platform where complete nutrient profiling of foods can be undertaken. The Hub has also established an improved and expanded mycotoxin diagnostic platform which enables the detection and screening for a range of fungi that affect food safety and quality.

The platform is equipped with ultra-high performance liquid chromatography with mass spectrometer (UHPLC-MS), fluorescence detector (UHPLC-FLD), diode array detector (UHPLC-DAD), atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS), gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and near infrared spectroscopy (FTNIR). The accessories include: the UV-VIS spectrophotometer, the VICAM fluorometer, ELISA, Romer and Vicam strip readers, and a dedicated biosafety level 2 (BSL2) milling room with Romer II mills, among other sample processing and preparation techniques.

This equipment and the supported technologies provide a combination of qualitative and quantitative analytical techniques for aflatoxin and otherbmycotoxin measurements. Proximate analysis, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and a range of other nutritional analyses can also be conducted. The platform includes an ISO 17025 accredited aflatoxin test, used for third-party verification with Kenyan private sector mills.

Molecular breeding platform

The Breeding platform at the BecA-ILRI Hub was designed to enhance plant breeding and livestock research efficiency. The platform hosts a regional hub of the Integrated Breeding Platform (IBP) which is coordinated by the CGIAR Generation Challenge Program and gives breeders access to the Breeding Management System (BMS), an all-in-one suite of tools for effectively management of activities from project planning to final decision-making.

The Integrated Genotyping Support and Service (IGSS) on the breeding platform is an innovative genotyping service and support to serve plant and livestock breeding programs to enhance the rate of genetic gain. Through a demand-led variety approach, the breeding platform aims at making plant breeding in Africa a business model responsive to market demand. The platform generates, manages genomic and marker data, and provides support to breeders and other scientists in integrating DNA marker technology and genomic tools in the development and release of new varieties.

Vaccine development

The facility is equipped for diagnostics (serology and molecular), cell imaging, molecular immunology and virology including; BD Facscanto II flow cytometer and BD influxTM Cell Sorter, Heamatology autoanalyzer, two AID EliSpot Reader Systems with camera, Luminex screening system for detecting and quantifying multiple target analytes, tissue culture systems, FPLC apparatus and other equipment required for vaccine development and infectious disease research. Vaccines under development  include African swine fever (ASF), contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP), East Coast fever (ECF), peste de petits ruminants (PPR) and Rift Valley fever (RVF). Associated with the platform is an enhanced BSL2 large animal facility for contained vaccine trials and a tick unit to support vector and vector-borne disease research. 

Plant growth facility

The 1,400m2-facility consists of a greenhouse, a screen house, growth chambers, and growth and culture rooms. The greenhouse contains one biosafety level 1 compartment and five biosafety level 2 containment compartments for nontransgenic and transgenic plant experiments respectively.

The compartments are equipped with computer-controlled roof vents and evaporative cooling mechanisms to regulate temperature and humidity. The facility contains a weather station, light intensity controls, rainwater collection and biosafety chambers. There are two screen houses covered with retractable thermal screens to allow for light intensity. The facility is also equipped with six Conviron CMP6050 growth chambers for the precise control of environmental parameters and the cleaning of infected plants by thermotherapy. There are eight growth rooms with with programmable controls and sensors to monitor power, temperature and humidity.

To request use of greenhouse, screen-house or growth chamber space, fill and submit the Plant Facility User Request Form. The request must include the square meters of bench space needed, number of plants, the commencement date and duration of the project. It should also include the name of the plants to be grown, the contact person’s details and any requirements for plant care. (Click here to fill the form)

Central core

The Central Core Unit prepares tissue culture media, microbiological growth media and plates, and buffers. The unit also provides laboratory glass-wash, sterilization and laboratory waste management services.  Media preparation services are available at competitive rates to BecA-ILRI Hub lab users and to other scientists and institutions.



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