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Next Generation Sequencing

The NGS (Next Generation Sequencing) project is concerned with the development of new methods of DNA (nucleic acid) analysis. Innovations in multiplex DNA sequencing (metabarcoding) make it possible to provide highly specific evidence of the presence of mould species indoors and of declared food ingredients in a product with unprecedented speed, quality and precision.

ResearchMoisture and mould damageIndoor air qualityMeasurements & MonitoringInterior

Correct food labelling is important to consumers for a variety of reasons, e.g. religious beliefs, lifestyle or nutritional and health concerns. False labelling of food or undeclared admixtures are illegal; however, food adulteration is a worldwide problem. Specific and sensitive methods of analysis are therefore required by food control laboratories to protect consumers from such practices.

On average, people spend between 80 and 90 per cent of their lives indoors. Allergies and especially asthma are steadily increasing in the population, which is not least associated with spending time indoors.
Classic allergens have no chemical similarities. They function on a purely spatial antigen-antibody interaction. However, most allergens are proteins or protein compounds and are therefore derived from biological organisms. But not only allergies can be caused by indoor microorganisms, cytotoxicity studies show that bacterial strains such as Pantoea agglomerans or Nocardiopsis alborubida can be expected to have a significant negative effect on health. Mould fungi and actinobacteria contribute significantly to indoor pollution through the formation of spores, which can have both allergenic and toxic effects.

Today, around 130,000 mould species are known, of which over 300 are regularly found in Central European homes and buildings. In laboratory analyses of mould infestation, however, only 15 different species are detected in practice. At present, not even 1% of all microorganisms can be cultivated in Petri dishes. It can therefore be assumed that conventional laboratory analyses of air samplers have so far only captured the actual biological indoor air profile in fragments.

The aim of the project is to use Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) to determine food ingredients and indoor air hygiene faster, better and more cheaply. Indoor spaces are to be analysed for the entire microbiome (= entirety of the genome of all microorganisms present). Such a comprehensive microbiological characterisation of indoor spaces could make a significant contribution to clarifying the relationship between health and indoor air quality and define new parameters for assessing the comfort of buildings.

Project team

Lebensmittelversuchsanstalt (Lead)

IBO - Österreichisches Institut für Baubiologie und -ökologie

Research period

July 2020 – June 2022

Funding Institutions

Funded by the BMDW as part of the ACR Strategic Projects 2020

Contact

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