Bioinformatics as a service: a fast track to new discoveries

Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luonnonvarakeskus, Luke) is Finland’s second-largest research institute. With the help of the bioinformatics team at Genevia Technologies, Luke’s researchers of animal genetic resources succeeded in identifying evolutionary relationships between reindeer populations, leading to some surprising outcomes.

Reindeer population genomics research

Photo: Juha Kantanen

The goal of the research project was to study how different reindeer populations have adapted to the arctic and subarctic environments genetically, as well as how the separate reindeer populations differ at a genetic level. When Luke’s team received the whole-genome sequencing (WGS) data collected from a sample set of 58 reindeer, they decided to outsource the WGS data analysis.

Juha Kantanen, research professor at Luke describes the collaboration:

– Our initial idea was to analyze the WGS data ourselves, as we have the competence in-house. However, our bioinformaticians already had their hands full, and considering the competitive nature of the field of genetics, I wanted to speed up the analytical process. I’m glad we chose Genevia; their team delivered precisely the help we were looking for, with excellent quality.

A seamless collaboration of two bioinformatics teams that led to new discoveries

Professor Kantanen praises the flow of the project and the flexibility that comes with utilizing an external team. Luke’s researchers found it very easy to collaborate with Genevia’s expert bioinformaticians, as the level of expertise and communication was exactly as required.

– Compared to our previous bioinformatics subcontractor experience, the collaboration between our own bioinformaticians and the team at Genevia proceeded flawlessly. We simply provided the data and a description of the analyses required and received results in virtually no time. Frequent meetings and working hour reports throughout the project enabled us to stay up to date with the progress and keep total control of the budget.

The findings associated with the evolutionary relationships of the reindeer populations eventually also resulted in unexpected follow-up projects. Professor Juha Kantanen has been studying the genetic diversity of domesticated animals for over 20 years, but this was the first project that resulted in his receiving a surprising phone call from Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation. Kantanen reveals what happened next:

– The bioinformatics analyses revealed new pieces of information on the evolutionary relationships between different domestic and wild reindeer populations, and the word began to spread. We are now collaborating with Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation as it is likely that the reindeer genomic studies may even have forensic applications. Furthermore, we are currently also in the process of developing a commercial reindeer SNP microarray chip – all thanks to Genevia’s analyses.

Quality and usability of the project report: exceeding expectations

Overwhelmed by the quality of the project report, professor Juha Kantanen warmly recommends Genevia Technologies to everyone in need of bioinformatics support.

– The best part of the collaboration was the project report – it was the best one I have ever received. I was able to utilize the report in the manuscript writing effectively – how convenient and effortless that was!

– Why wouldn’t I choose Genevia for our upcoming projects as well? It is easy to call them up when a sudden need for extra hands arises, or in-house knowledge needs replenishment. I do not have anything to complain of Genevia’s services; I can genuinely recommend Genevia to everyone.

Read about the project's technical details here

Professor Juha KantanenProfessor Juha Kantanen with a Siberian Laika, photo by Tiina Reilas

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