Fluidigm Introduces First Reusable Bio-Chip

Fluidigm Corporation held a joint press conference this morning with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service to announce their new reusable bio-chip architecture which is a first for the commercial market.

These reusable integrated fluidic circuits (IFCs) will dramatically lower SNP genotyping costs and are designed to support accelerated sample throughput, while maintaining data quality of 99.75 percent or greater accuracy and 99 percent or greater call rates.

Fluidigm initially invented this architecture to support a progressive new program driven by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the chief scientific research agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The program’s goal is to drive high sample throughput genotyping down to a penny-per-data-point, which would enable widespread adoption of genetic analysis in vegetable and fruit seeds, livestock (cattle, pigs, sheep, poultry, etc.) and fishery management. This will significantly improve the quality and quantity of the food supply, while lowering production costs.

I spoke to Fluidigm President/CEO Gajus Worthington to learn more about the announcement and what it means to consumers today.

You can find the full release here (Word Doc) and listen to my interview with Gajus below.

Plant and Animal Genome Conference Success For Fluidigm

paglogoThe 18th International Plant and Animal Genome Conference was a big success for AgWired sponsor Fluidigm. I spoke with product manager, Yong Yi, about his participation and what his take-aways were.

Yong says the key one for him was seeing the pace at which people are doing plant and animal research and picking up new technologies. He says it was easy to see it at the conference with not only the researchers in attendance but also in the exhibitors space with the growth of vendors coming to the show.

Fluidigm conducted a workshop titled, “Enabling High Sample Throughput SNP Genotyping for Plant and Animal Studies.” Speakers included Curt Van Tassell, USDA-ARS, Bovine Testing; Jim Seeb, University of Washington, Salmon Conservation and Nanne Faber, Enza Zaden, Seed Quality Control. Yong says they had great attendance and are planning on conducting a workshop like this at future conferences.

Fluidigm was also an exhibitor and Yong says the show once again proved a great place for the company to be. He said that they had a lot of interaction with people who were not familiar with their system that includes SNP genotyping and a new product line that does sample preparation for next generation sequencing. He feels very optimistic for the future after Fluidigm acquired recent new customers, USDA-ARS and Bayer CropScience.

You can listen to my interview with Yong below:

Fluidigm Inks Deal With Bayer CropScience

Fluidigm LogoAgWired sponsor, Fluidigm Corporation has just announced a multi-year agreement with a new client, Bayer CropScience. Here’s some details.

Fluidigm Corporation today announced it has entered into a multi-year agreement with Bayer CropScience to supply integrated fluidic circuits (IFCs) and instrumentation to Bayer CropScience’s global operations. Bayer CropScience will be using Fluidigm technology to conduct marker-assisted breeding, genetic analysis in its molecular breeding program and quality control on its vegetable seeds.

“Fluidigm is delighted to be a global supplier to Bayer CropScience. Our technology is perfectly suited to help them develop and take-to-market the highest-quality seeds for field and vegetable crops,” said Gajus Worthington, president and chief executive officer of Fluidigm. “We are committed to helping Bayer CropScience meet the ever-increasing demands for high-quality food supplies throughout the world.”

While many seed producers are using molecular breeding techniques, the capacity of the available test systems has been limited. Fluidigm’s technology increases output more than ten-fold and reduces the cost-per-data point to a mere fraction obtainable with standard 384 well plates for “high-throughput” genotyping. “Until recently, breeders throughout the world could only dream of such a technique, yet now Fluidigm is making this a reality,” Worthington explained. Continue reading

Fluidigm Inks Deal With USDA

Fluidigm LogoIt looks like AgWired sponsor, Fluidigm Corporation, is making some new inroads into the agricultural sector with their announcement that “USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has purchased a Fluidigm microfluidic-based EP1™ System to help develop and validate focused 96- and 384-SNP (single-nucleotide polymorphism) panels for testing America’s dairy and beef cattle. To ensure healthy cows and top quality product.”

ARS scientists are collaborating with leading members of the U.S. biotechnology industry to develop low-cost, high-throughput SNP panels that can genetically indicate cattle growth rates, disease resistance, milk productivity, health and longevity. To date ARS has studied over 100 of the more than 50,000 previously discovered genetic markers for cattle. The project’s goal is to turn out healthier cows that produce higher-quality milk and meat for consumers while also preserving the viability of the country’s thousands of cattle ranchers and dairy farmers. Validated SNP panels are expected to be utilized routinely in livestock breeding management. There are approximately nine million dairy cows and 35 million beef cattle in the United States
Continue reading

Fluidigm Workshop at Plant/Animal Genome Conference

paglogoThe 18th International Plant and Animal Genome Conference is about to take place January 9-13 at the Town & Country Convention Center in San Diego, California and AgWired sponsor Fluidigm will be there. In fact they will be conducting one of the workshops titled, “Enabling High Sample Throughput SNP Genotyping for Plant and Animal Studies.”

It will be held on Tuesday, January 12, from 1:30 – 3:50 PM in the Town & Country Royal Palm Salon 1, 2, 3 rooms. Speakers include Curt Van Tassell, USDA-ARS, Bovine Testing; Jim Seeb, University of Washington, Salmon Conservation and Nanne Faber, Enza Zaden, Seed Quality Control.

You can find Fluidigm in booth 126, featuring the Fluidigm EP1™ system for high throughput SNP genotyping and digital PCR. If you’ve been following our interviews with Fluidigm, you’ll know what all this means by now! You can find stories about how Fluidigm is assisting in ag biotech by clicking here and here.

I spoke with Fluidigm’s Product Manager, Yong Yi, about the PAG Conference and the company’s involvement with it since its inception. He says the PAG is an opportunity for people doing plant and animal research to get together and share information. Genetic research is one of the top areas of focus and that’s where the Fluidigm System really has an application. Yong says their exhibit will help demonstrate their technology and their workshop will feature three of their customers who will discuss real world examples of how they use it.

Download the Fluidigm PAG Workshop invite here (pdf) and listen to my interview with Yong below:

GMO Detection With The Fluidigm System

Although many old school environmentalists are now embracing genetically engineered crops, GMO’s continue to be a hot topic and one that impacts agribusiness, especially in the area of international trade. In this installment of our interviews with Fluidigm Corporation you’ll hear how their system can play a key role in assisting companies involved in biotechnology and therefore today’s farmers.

To learn about using the Fluidigm System for GMO detection I spoke with Ramesh Ramakrishna, Director of Molecular Biology. He makes a point that modifying plants and animals genetically is not something new. It has in fact been going on for centuries. However, today’s biotech processes speed things up significantly and it is very important to have measurement tools that provide quick, reliable results. That’s where tools like the Fluidigm System can have a very positive benefit since the system allows for faster measurements and at a significant reduction in cost.

You can watch or listen to my interview with Ramesh below:

Fluidigm System Work Flow

In this latest edition of the stories about Fluidigm Corporation you’ll get to meet Amy Hamilton, Technical Support Specialist. Amy works in the lab at Fluidigm headquarters. She walks us through a workflow of the Fluidigm System.

As you’ll see in the video, the size and scale of equipment needed for the Fluidigm System to conduct many different simultaneous samples in a project is much smaller than you would normally find in a research lab today. This is why the company would like to talk to ag bio researchers since the system is more efficient and can produce big savings in the long run.

Genotyping With Fluidigm

Fluidigm Ramesh RamakrishnaWith a title like Director of Molecular Biology you might think that it would be hard for a non-technical person to carry on a conversation with Ramesh Ramakrishna. Not so. Ramesh works for Fluidigm Corporation and is my latest interview in the series we’re doing to introduce the agribusiness world to their break through research technology.

In our interview you’ll learn about SNP genotyping and microsats. What are they you ask? Watch or listen to the interview and learn. Ramesh says his team is responsible for developing applications where the Fluidigm System can be used and one of those areas is genotyping. You can learn more about genotyping in this Science magazine article. If this sounds very technical, don’t worry. Ramesh defines genotyping, SNP’s and microsats for you.

He offers as an example of why this is important in today’s agricultural biotechnology the fact that a farmer or researcher really needs to be sure that something they are planting or working on (plant or animal) is really what it is represented to be. This type of genetic analysis allows for that surety. You can be sure this is important with so many new seed varieties and the desire to be able to track the source for a certain product. The Fluidigm System, unlike other methods to accomplish the above, is extremely flexible and allows for very small volumes and costs.

You can watch or listen to my interview with Ramesh below:

R&D At Fluidigm

Fluidigm Andy MayWhen it comes to research and development at Fluidigm Corporation, one of the key people involved is Andy May. In my interview with him he puts the high level technology Fluidigm develops into easy to understand terms. You’ll find out why this is necessary when we get into the whole DNA sequencing issue and how Fluidigm has pioneered some of the latest mechanisms to work with it. Forward a link to the interview to your favorite R&D’er!

Andy says there are two main products they’ve been developing. One of them is called Slingshot which he says is a very accurate method of measuring concentrations of DNA samples. The other product, which his group is focused on, is called AccessArray which streamlines the preparation of small regions of DNA for sequencing using the current generation of sequencing platforms. He says there has been a huge change in the technology used for DNA sequencing in recent years and people are looking for new ways and improved methods for introducing samples into those instruments. Like the whole Fluidigm System, these products help streamline the work flow and in fact are more production devices than just measurement devices.

The new Fluidigm products have been developed in conjunction with early access clients and several systems have been sold and are now available via general release.

You can watch or listen to my interview with Andy below:

The Fluidigm System

Fluidigm Yong YiThe Fluidigm System starts with their Integrated Fluidic Circuits. The Product Manager who is intimately familiar with the IFC’s is Yong Yi. I spoke with him about this system and he helps explain what the IFC’s do and can do for a client company. In the picture he’s holding one of their chips containing an IFC.

It’s all about miniaturization and therefore efficiency which is particularly important in ag bio since you’re dealing with a tremendous number of samples and wide variety of species and applications. The company manufacturers the chips or IFC’s for their clients. The chips are built on semiconducter technology which uses silicon chips that allow them to be very precise. Yong says they work with a wide variety of clients including seed companies who want to use it for quality control to make sure their farmer customer is getting exactly what is ordered.

The IFC’s have become increasingly complex since they first started production and Yong says that will continue. So the chips will be able to handle increasingly complex functions as time goes on.

You can watch or listen to my interview with Yong below:

Getting To Know Fluidigm

Fluidigm Gajus WorthingtonThe President/CEO and co-Founder of Fluidigm (AgWired Sponsor) is Gajus Worthington. Let’s meet him and learn about the company and how its technology can benefit agribusiness.

I met with Gajus at the company headquarters in South San Francisco and asked him a number of questions to help us better understand their core technology. Before getting to the technology, he explains how he decided to start the company one day while walking down the street and “in an instant, like being hit by a bolt of lightning” he knew his future was defined and that “what I was supposed to do was build a company that could contribute in a variety of different ways to a variety of different industries.”

The core technology produced by Fluidigm is the production of integrated fluidic circuits (IFC’s). Gajus uses the analogy of electronics where large computers using vacuum tubes were made very small by the use of a chip. That made electronics much more high performance and affordable. That innovation has impacted ag through the use of GPS in precision applications for example. He says Fluidigm does a similar thing for biology. Biology research today uses machines much like those old vacuum tube computers except they use arrays of test tubes and hoses. Fluidigm takes all that “plumbing” and puts it on a chip. For example, a single chip (IFC) can have as much plumbing as in a 1,000 room hotel! This allows for very high throughput biological research much more cost effectively and easily. This has major implications for genetics, conservation, seed selection and quality control.

Because the technology is so small it allows this type of work to move to the field in places where it couldn’t be done before, like feedlots for example. One example is a Fluidigm client, the Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game, which uses their technology in the field to manage salmon fisheries. He says seeing the use of their technology in industries like agribusiness and the management of wildlife is extremely gratifying because it’s contributing to people’s livelihoods and helping the environment.

We’re going to learn more about Fluidigm systems and technology in upcoming stories that include interviews with key company representatives. Gajus provides a very good overview of what you can expect from Fluidigm now and in the future.

You can watch or listen to my interview with Gajus below:

Tour Guides To Agribusiness For Fluidigm

ZimmCast 233 - Working With FluidigmThe man who is guiding the marketing efforts for Fluidigm is Howard High. He is the man who found AgWired and contacted us about helping introduce the company to the agribusiness community. That’s because he recognizes the community that we’ve developed. He says they want to communicate with people in agribusiness “where they are.” That is what the whole new media strategy is all about.

Howard HighDuring a day in Fluidigm headquarters in South San Francisco I spoke with Howard about why he contacted us and what the company hopes to accomplish with our project. He says that agribusiness is a critical business for them. They’ve been working more with pure research companies up to this point but he says agricultural research comprises high volumes of samples and testing and that’s where they believe they offer the industry some significant advantages.

When it comes to selecting AgWired he says they are looking at our company as “their tour guides” since the industry has its own language, customs and culture. I like that idea of being a “trusted guide.” So it puts the burden on us to show them how to be effective and translate what they do to what the industry needs. He believes that as we do that we will accelerate the timetable for what they want to achieve. Our mechanisms also provide ways for reverse communication from the audience (so I hope you’ll provide some feedback to Fluidigm).

You can learn a lot more about the technology offered by Fluidigm by visiting their website where you’ll also find several opportunities to communicate with them. Here’s where you can find an overview of their technology.

The ZimmCast is the official weekly podcast of AgWired. Subscribe so you can listen when and where you want. Just go to our a Subscribe page.

Learning About Fluidigm IFC’s

Fluidigm ChipHere’s a look at a Fluidigm integrated fluidic circuit (IFC). This is the core technology that the company produces. Holding the chip is Yong Yi, Product Manager, Fluidigm. He was one of the first people I interviewed here at the company headquarters in South San Francisco. I’ll be posting his interview later.

I just wanted you to see that we’re going to be talking about some pretty technical products that have a real application for agricultural biotechnology. We’re going to learn more about it in coming weeks since I’ll be posting regular stories about the work that Fluidigm does and its technology.

Introducing Fluidigm

Fluidigm LogoLet me introduce you to Fluidigm. This company develops and distributes systems based on integrated fluidic circuits (IFCs). During the coming weeks we’ll learn more about them and how their products and systems can benefit the agribusiness sector.

I’ll be visiting Fluidigm headquarters this week to learn more about the company and their products and conduct interviews which will be featured here on AgWired. I know we’ll be dealing with some complex technology but yours truly will work to help make it understandable since it seems clear that what Fluidigm has to offer agriculture, especially from the biotechnology standpoint, is very important.