Functional Genomics Laboratory

Brandon University, Brandon, Manitoba
What the facility does

Research in the control of parasitic diseases caused by helminths and protozoans and examines the role of molecules and the environment in these infections

Areas of expertise

The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 80 percent of the world’s population is infected with a parasitic worm, or helminth. While fatal worm infections in humans are rare, they do have a significant impact on DALYs (Disability-Adjusted Life Years) — the number of healthy years of life lost due to premature death and disability). In the poorest countries, this burden falls heavily on children, where these infections contribute to malnutrition, anemia, stunted growth, cognitive impairment and increased susceptibility to other diseases. The impacts of infectious disease can have enormous implications for human health, as well as that of animals of economic and social significance. For example, tremendous losses are experienced each year in North America as a direct result of livestock mortality, but it is now recognized that subclinical infections (i.e. no obvious disease) also have devastating effects on productivity (e.g. economic losses in the United States from parasitic infections of livestock have been estimated at more than $3 billion a year). In Canada, many large-scale agricultural crops, such as soybean, wheat and potato, are destroyed by soil helminths that infect the crops. The goal of the research program is to help alleviate the disease burden caused by parasitic helminths by understanding the dynamics of these infections at both the micro level (i.e. molecular: genes and proteins) and the macro level (i.e. environment in which they establish: landscape; presence of contaminants).

Research services

The functional genomics facility is equipped for faculty engaged in basic and clinical research in areas of gene expression and genotyping. The facility contains a variety of tools for performing genomic studies.

Applications such as gene expression analysis, determination of viral load, detection of genetically modified organisms, single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis, genotyping and allelic discrimination are possible.

As well, the laboratory is dedicated to the support of in vitro cell culture and contains a biological safety cabinet that is certified to handle agents requiring a level 2 biocontainment.

Sectors of application
  • Agriculture, animal science and food
  • Fisheries and aquaculture
  • Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment



Bio-Plex suspension array system, workstation and manager software

This system integrates xMAP suspension array technology with a reliable workstation, dedicated software and validation tools. It includes an array reader, microplate platform, high-throughput fluidics, calibration and validation kits, software, SNP manager data analysis utility, PC and monitor. Capable of examining hundreds of genes (or proteins) at once, this system can be used for SNP genotyping, genotyping, pathogen detection, strain typing, multianalyte protein analysis and transcription factor analysis.

Biolistic particle delivery system

This system provides a direct physical method of delivering nucleic acids into cells to transform them. The technology is useful for a wide range of targets, including cell cultures, tissues, organs, plants, animals, bacteria and organelles. The instrument uses a helium pulse to accelerate high-density gold or tungsten particles coated with nucleic acids directly into target cells.

Protean IEF system and Protean II 2-D cell

The protean isoelectric focusing system (IEF) performs the first dimension in two-dimensional electrophoretic protein analysis. The Protean 2-D cell is used to separate proteins in the second dimension.

HelixTree genetics analysis software

This software product facilitates the relating of genes and environmental factors to treatment (i.e. drugs, pesticides) outcomes. It is able to relate thousands of interacting genes (i.e. those which would result from a microarray experiment) and environmental outcomes to a phenotypic response. It also has advanced haplotype (i.e. combination of alleles at multiple loci that are “passed on”) features that allow correlation of haplotypes with a response.

Inverted fluorescent microscope with camera


Epi-fluorescent stereoscope, motion-tracking software (Image-Pro Plus) and camera


Coupled with a microscope camera, this imaging software allows the capture and analysis of specimen images and the investigation of changes in live specimens over time (e.g. host and parasite responses to various compounds) by acquiring images at predefined intervals and in real-time video. It has the capability of counting and characterizing objects using over 50 manual and automatic measurement tools, enabling researchers to extract quantifiable data. Images can also be explored in three dimensions to allow the measurement of angles, distances and volumes.

Molecular Devices multi-mode microplate reader

This instrument is designed to perform high-throughput fluorescence, luminescence and absorbance measurements of samples in a microplate format. Requiring less than two minutes to process a 96-sample microplate, it is capable of processing thousands of samples in one hour. Applications of this equipment include measurement of fluorescent-labelled DNA probes, green-fluorescent protein, green- fluorescent protein reporter, chemiluminescence, bioluminescence, metabolic cofactors and colorimetric and fluorescent-based immunological assays.

Ventilated HEPA-filtered cage system

This self-contained cage system is used for housing animals that are immunosuppressed or contain infectious pathogens. Because it is designed with a hepa filter, it allows for different strains or types of animals to be housed within the same system and located within existing labs without the need for costly construction.

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Bernadette F. Ardelli