IGA - Institute of Applied Genomics

The Institute of Applied Genomics (IGA) was founded in 2006 thanks to the initiative of a group of researchers at the University of Udine with multidisciplinary expertise in the fields of genomics, bioinformatics and genetic improvement. In a short time the IGA has established itself as an international scientific research centre of excellence in the field of structural and functional genomics of living organisms, becoming the first sequencing centre in Italy and among the first in Europe.

The Institute of Applied Genomics (IGA) was founded in 2006 thanks to the initiative of a group of researchers at the University of Udine with multidisciplinary expertise in the fields of genomics, bioinformatics and genetic improvement. In a short time the IGA has established itself as an international scientific research centre of excellence in the field of structural and functional genomics of living organisms, becoming the first sequencing centre in Italy and among the first in Europe.

Currently the IGA staff consists of 25 researchers with expertise in genetics, structural and functional genomics, biology, biochemistry, mathematics applied to biological systems and computer science. The Scientific Director is Prof. Michele Morgante (Scholar of the Lincei).

IGA’s fields of activity are:

  • research on genetic diversity and the relationship with the phenotypic diversity of living organisms;
  • study of the genetic bases of complex characters, namely those of interest for agriculture, for human health and for food and environmental safety;
  • study of the mechanisms and processes in the evolution of genomes and living organisms;
  • identification and enhancement of existing genetic resources in nature, for the resolution of problems in the agri-food sector;
  • development of algorithms and methods for the description, analysis, simulation and prediction of biological systems.

In particular, the IGA carries out research on structural and functional genomics in plant species such as vines, wheat, biomass poplar, coffee, olive, Citrus and animal and fish species. The projects are financed by the EU, the Italian Government, regional administrations, research institutes and private companies.

The IGA has developed genome sequencing of the vine in collaboration with Genoscope of Paris (completed in 2007) and genome sequencing of peach in collaboration with the Joint Genome Institute of the US Department of Energy, USA (completed in 2009). Genome sequencing of the grapevine is an Italian-French project officially launched in 2005 through a collaboration agreement that was signed between the two countries. The group of scholars headed by IGA, after completing the first physical mapping of the vine, together with other national and international partners, participated in a project that obtained the first version of the genome sequence of the vine, i.e. decoding of 500 million vine DNA bases, within a year and the results were published in the Nature journal. In addition to bringing Friuli to the highest levels of scientific research, the completion of genome sequencing of vines will guarantee short and medium-term benefits to the wine sector, thanks to the possibility of creating new higher quality and mould-resistant grapevine varieties, and of implementing the characterisation of vine varieties and clones for nursery workers. The primary market for this first project is the viticulture nurseries that produce cuttings for winemakers and, subsequently, companies operating in the biotechnology and bioinformatics fields.

Laboratory equipment
The Institute of Applied Genomics is located in Friuli Innovation, where a DNA sequencing centre has been set up (using both traditional Sanger sequencing machines and second-generation Illumina machines) and a computational biology centre with equipment for parallel calculation, 75 Tb for data storage and expertise for the development of LIMS (Laboratory Information Management Systems), DBMS (DataBase Management Systems), algorithms and software for structural and functional analysis of DNA sequences.

External Services
In 2009, the IGA established IGA Technology Services, a service company that manages the Institute’s contracts and external services. The company has two second-generation Illumina sequencers and a third-generation machine capable of deciphering about 600 billion bases in a single run, corresponding to 6 complete human genomes, up to 60 plant genomes, or 3,000 bacterial genomes. The company is able to respond to analysis requests from universities, research centres and public bodies that are active in the field of plant biotechnology, but also in animal and medical sectors.

 

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