BFW Department of Genetics molecular laboratory

Practicalities TA feedback

The TNA holder has indicated that this infrastructure would remain accessible also after the Trees4Future end-of-project, however the applicant would have to bear costs.

Potential users are invited to enquire directly with the site manager for agreement on accessibility and related costs.

Type of facility: laboratory

Keywords: population genetics, genomics, traceability, genotyping, sequencing, bioinformatics

About the facility: Genetic characterization of forest tree populations, seedlots and plants in a modern molecular genetics laboratory – analyze and check diversity, paternity, relationships and purity in a range of species

A fully equipped laboratory for molecular (DNA) analysis of forest tree genetic diversity is available and consists of mills for homogenization of plant material (2 x 96 format), pipetting robot for 96-well format, 10 PCR-machines (including 96- and 384-well format, as well as superfast and temperature gradient machines), a capillary electrophoresis DNA analyser, and a denaturing gradient high-performance liquid chromatography system for DNA analysis. These pieces of equipment operate in an automatic way that requires little user intervention.

Data processing is done by a suite of computer programs that have been assembled to appropriate pipelines. Experience exists with analyzing genetic diversity and parent-offspring relationships for many temperate and Alpine forest tree species, especially Populus, Quercus, Prunus, Picea, Larix, Fraxinus, and Taxus species. The team at BFW consists of molecular biologists, foresters, nursery specialists and laboratory technicians. This combination ensures a high level of interaction between field work and laboratory genetic analysis. Recent research highlights supported by this infrastructure include publications in Molecular Ecology and Genetics on hybridization effects in Populus.

What does the TA programme offer? Access typically consists of 30 days. Before arrival, a work plan will be agreed. A typical guest would arrive with biological samples ready for analysis, to be processed for DNA analyses. Genetic markers to be applied are agreed upon before arrival. The guest extracts DNA and performs PCR analysis, with either DNA fragment analysis or sequencing, under the guidance of the host scientist and technicians. Results are collected in or converted to computer files. Minimum output is a set of DNA analysis data (raw data); processed data (e.g. assessment of genetic diversity, parent-offspring relationships, geographic patterns) are more typical. Data analysis and interpretation are based on in-house experience with software and biological traits of the species analysed. If possible, reports and manuscripts will be prepared while the guest is still at the site, or by email exchange afterwards.

Visitors are supported by guidance from BFW scientists in the preparation of the stay, and during laboratory analyses. Technical staff will help in hands-on experiments. Several computer desks are available for scientific guests, as well as the whole IT infrastructure, including online access to main scientific literature sources. Regular internal seminars highlight recent progress in research projects. Guests are usually integrated into the staff’s daily work-day routines, including coffee and lunch breaks. 

"For me this was an opportunity to acquire more practical skills in forest genetics and work with a successful team in a fully equipped laboratory."

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Location: Vienna, Austria

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