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At the SGS Global Biosciences Center we serve a wide range of sectors – including mining, energy, environment, biodiversity, industry, buildings, transportation and supply chains. We provide a comprehensive portfolio of biosciences services, tailored to your industry and requirements and backed up by the global reach and resources of SGS operations.
Mining Energy

Mining & Energy

The world's natural resources supply the materials and energy we require to build, eat, move, communicate, innovate, and stay healthy. We enable exploitation of these resources in a sustainable way with minimal impact to the environment, climate and biodiversity

At the SGS Global Biosciences Center, we focus on the many ways nature provides a sustainable solution for the most challenging issues

For instance, microbes have already been used for decades in the processing of copper and gold ores, reducing the need for high-temperature processes, which consume energy. Similarly, microbes, or even plants, may be used to extract much needed rare-earth-elements (REE) from historic mine tailing, whereby reduction of acidic mine effluent may also be mitigated. We can help you extract REEs, which are critical for the energy transition as they are used in batteries, solar panels and windmills.

We provide a range of new molecular techniques that enable us to venture into the natural microbiome world tied to natural resources. Microbes are more sensitive to minor changes in their environment or nutrient supply than most man-made analytical techniques. Microbiome community structure variations form a means to detect these subtle environmental variations. We help you explore subtle shifts in soil microbial populations that may help in the search for hydrocarbons or even aid mineral exploration.

Microbes in the subsurface may aid, or pose a risk, to oil production, and carbon and hydrogen storage. Within the energy supply chain in particular, fuel storage is at risk of microbial contaminations, which may cause degradation or filter blockage. The transition to biofuels is an additional risk, due to its increased hydrophobic characteristics. We help you to understand (subsurface) microbiomes and their effect on current and future energy supplies.

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Environment Biodiversity

Environment & Biodiversity

Life is all around us and it is often the things not visible to the eye that are most astonishing. At the SGS Global Biosciences Center, we focus on both the microbial world and the DNA present in all life on our planet.

Elaborate microbiome communities exist around plant roots and protect crops and forests from drought and disease. On the flip side, bacteria, viruses and fungi also pose a threat to many of the plants we rely on. We help you understand microbe-plant interaction to increase crop yields and resistance to disease, help forests become more resilient to fire, increase carbon sequestration and reduce flood risk.

The microbes in water and soil are excellent natural recyclers and provide nutrients for plants. Microbes can also be ‘trained and stimulated’ to recycle and clean up contaminations, like oil-spills, mining waste or even plastics. We help you explore the use of bacteria and fungi for bioremediation as a solution for addressing the increasing levels of pollution around our planet.

Microbial communities are ideally studied through NGS, which entails parallel sequencing of DNA from multiple species. This same technique can be applied to the DNA of other organisms like insects, mammals, amphibians, fish, plants, etc. We develop services that center around the collection and analysis of the DNA these organisms shed to their surroundings, called environmental DNA (eDNA).

Snippets of eDNA are sequenced and compared to databases to infer the species present in an area. This can be done on almost any sample (soil, water, air, surface-swabs, etc.) and provides a huge advantage to determine biodiversity compared to conventional methods. We help you monitor rare and evasive species, which we can identify in our lab in days, rather than weeks of infield observations by specialized taxonomists. eDNA even opens our eyes to those species that are difficult to observe but which are so very important, such as insects, plankton and fungi.

Our eDNA services include:

  • Marine and aquatic biodiversity surveys
  • Terrestrial biodiversity surveys and monitoring
  • Pests and invasive species monitoring
  • Plant-pollinator relationship studies

Furthermore, we aim to integrate eDNA and (soil) microbiome services into:

  • Soil optimization studies
  • Ecosystem and natural capital services
  • Natural carbon sequestration projects
  • Forest management

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Industry Buildings

Industry & Buildings

Humans spend around 80% of their time indoors. Industrialization has driven significant innovation and brought tremendous benefits to our health and wellbeing. Even though it may not be directly apparent, biosciences play an important role here.

Within industry and around buildings, microbes are often associated with risks to health, asset integrity and operational efficiency. We provide essential services in biodeterioration, microbial influenced corrosion and biofouling.

Pests and pathogens can often be effectively monitored via various molecular techniques. For example:

  • Rapid and onsite Legionella and COVID testing, enabling hotels and offices to re-open safely and more quickly by verifying mitigative action faster
  • Molecular DNA-based techniques for detecting the smallest traces of pests such as rodents, insects and fungi
  • Environmental DNA for monitoring biodiversity, which is critical for a healthy community
  • Microbial Risk Assessment Services (MiRAS) to enable oil and gas asset integrity and other industries, where (fouled) water are used

While water used in systems may house microbes and pose a threat to an asset, disposal of that water may impact the environment. We develop and deploy techniques that help assess the impact of industry to the environment. We assist in optimizing wastewater treatment, as microbes provide an effective means to neutralize waste streams. Effectively monitoring the active microbial consortia is vital to optimize these processes using DNA-based techniques coupled with field-based equipment.

We also help you use wastewater as a valuable data source, providing a range of metrics from the upstream system. For instance, in epidemiology, monitoring of virus particles in sewage streams may be used to detect disease outbreaks early. This technique has been utilized for several years, but recently has seen increased uptake due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The SGS Global Biosciences Center supports the SGS network in developing and validating a variety of similar drinking-, waste- and process-water analyses services.

Our services include:

  • Biodiversity monitoring within cities and integration with ecosystem services
  • Pest and building health monitoring
  • Wastewater monitoring and process optimization
  • Microbial corrosion and biodeterioration
  • Independent verification of industrial biotechnology processes

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Transportation Supply Chains

Transportation & Supply Chains

Mobility is one of major challenges of the 21st century as the world embraces the energy transition. At the same time, consumers demand transparency in supply chains and want to understand the origin of the products they buy.

As demand for electric cars increases, other sectors are looking at biofuels and hydrogen to replace fossil fuels. Biofuels can be generated via microbial processes which can be simulated at the SGS Global Biosciences Center. We can also help you to understand the detrimental effects that microbes pose on long-term biofuel storage.

Within the shipping sector, we are deeply involved in ballast water treatment compliance testing. The intake and purging of ballast water tanks are a significant risk to ecosystems, facilitating the transport of invasive species. On other parts of vessels, rapid health checks can ensure passengers remain safe and healthy during transit, which is particularly critical for the cruise industry.

The movement of goods poses a threat by introducing invasive species or pathogens. The necessary phytosanitary checks benefit from molecular DNA technologies, which can be more accurate and inclusive compared to some of the visual techniques currently used. Where fraud or illegal trade is influencing consumer trust or brand reputation, products can be marked by synthetic DNA markers.

The SGS Global Biosciences Center evaluates these technologies and focusses on product tracking via the natural DNA present in many natural products, such as wood, wool and leather. DNA-based product tracking can help to battle fraud, trafficking, theft and counterfeiting.

Many products are still difficult to recycle via chemical or mechanic processes. In some instances, microbial processes offer selective uptake of certain elements. This may allow recovery of rare-earth elements from electronics or lithium from batteries. Also, the degradation of certain plastics or other persistent materials may be possible via microbial processes.

We offer the microbe and molecular (DNA) based technologies that play an important role at the beginning, during and at the end of your supply chains.

Our transportation and supply chain services include:

  • Product tracking via synthetic DNA
  • Support of fuel microbiology projects
  • Support of rapid ballast water and vessel testing programs
  • Commodity tracking via natural DNA
  • Microbial recycling

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