Case study

How Morten Nørholm is Pioneering Evolutionary Research at DTU Biosustain

Morten Nørholm and his research group at DTU Biosustain, leaders in bacterial evolution research, took their groundbreaking work to new heights by implementing the Reshape Imaging System.

3,300

Hours Monitored

130,000+

Images taken

3+

Novel papers published

“The biggest value driver for us in using the Reshape Imaging System is digitalization of our experiments. Getting deep insights into everything that happens during our experiment is hugely helpful to discover new phenomena more quickly.”

– Morten Nørholm
PI and Research Group Leader DTU Biosustain, Genome Engineering Group & CSO CloneOpt

Challenge: Initial developments

Morten Nørholm's research group, the Genome Engineering Group, have been making fundamental discoveries in understanding the mechanisms behind bacterial evolution for years. However, they faced limitations due to the manual steps involved in observing the plates, which required careful scheduling.

“While previous studies have identified important parameters of genome topology and regulation, these have focused largely on gene expression in the exponential growth phase. Ironically, exponential growth is only a minor fraction in the lifespan of a microorganism. We therefore expect to obtain new highly fundamental insights by taking a different approach.”

The research team sought a solution that could complement their cutting-edge work and help them unlock new discoveries - initially in the form of building their own time-lapse setup. While the results were promising, the time spent on developing the imaging setup took time away from research and the functionality was limited.

“We had been running this experiment dozens of times, chasing the mutation when it was about to occur. Due to the nature of these phenomena, it’s very hard to predict and requires high-resolution observation of a large number of samples to get significant amounts of data”

A better way forward

Morten Nørholm and his team needed a solution that could address the challenges they faced in their research:

  • Quantifying the time of mutation is very difficult with human assessment and check-ups
  • Getting repeatable data across a large set of strains and conditions was a significant bottleneck
  • Time is scarce in the research lab, and experiments were constrained by practical feasibility
“Sometimes, it can take days or weeks before a single mutation happens. Sometimes, it would happen overnight when no one was in the lab. Having an automated solution for monitoring has been fundamental to enabling this type of experiment and aqcuiring robust data.”

The research team sought a solution that could complement their cutting-edge work and help them unlock new discoveries - initially in the form of building their own time-lapse setup. While the results were promising, the time spent on developing the imaging setup took time away from research and the functionality was limited.

“We had been running this experiment dozens of times, chasing the mutation when it was about to occur. Due to the nature of these phenomena, it’s very hard to predict and requires high-resolution observation of a large number of samples to get significant amounts of data”

The solution: Automated high-resolution imaging

After discovering the Reshape Imaging System, Morten Nørholm's team adopted the technology and experienced remarkable improvements:

“Not only did we solve the core problems that were holding us back, but the flexibility of the equipment means that we’ve been able to improve a lot of our other assays as well and even develop new ones based on this new functionality. The ease of use fits perfectly with a university laboratory where a lot of different people need to use the equipment.”

Today, the Reshape Imaging System is running daily at DTU Biosustain, generating high-resolution insights that can be easily viewed, shared, and analyzed by the research team.

The Results: Pioneering Research Accelerated and Enhanced Collaboration

With the Reshape Imaging System, DTU Biosustain experienced:

  • A 10-minute resolution for data collection
  • The ability to screen 26,000 mutants effectively
  • Streamlined collaboration and accessibility for multiple users in the lab

The Reshape Imaging System has been instrumental in accelerating discoveries and enabling Morten Nørholm and his team to continue their innovative work in bacterial evolution research.

See more about the research done by Morten Nørholm and the Genome Engineering Group here

Find papers by Morten Nørholm here

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