Institutions and facilities
INFRAFRONTIER gnotobiology group
The axenic service and gnotobiology platforms participating in the INFRAFRONTIER gnotobiology expert group provide technological support to perform state of the art experiments relying on the removal and / or manipulation of mouse microbiota in a safe and controlled manner. In addition, they support researchers with access to organs, tissues and biofluids from germ-free mice, and provide a fast access to mice that are kept under germ-free conditions. The services are provided to institutional, national and international users and the demand is growing due to the renewed interest in microbiome research.
The current INFRAFRONTIER axenic service is funded by the INFRAFRONTIER2020 project, a four year infrastructure project that started in January 2017 and is supported by the EU Research and Innovation Program Horizon2020. Beyond providing pilot axenic services the INFRAFRONTIER2020 project will support capacity development in gnotobiology, and the coordination and development of a comprehensive INFRAFRONTIER service portfolio to support microbiome research.
Gnoto / Axenic Facility of the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras, Portugal
The Gnoto / Axenic Facility is part of the core animal facility of the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC) in Oeiras, Portugal. The IGC mouse facility is partitioned into 5 independent areas, each with a specific bio-containment level, including germ-free and strict SPF. The facility hosts about 50,000 mice that cover close to a 100 different inbred strains, available to in-house and associated research groups and visiting scientists. Production and experimental areas are designed to serve active research in various fields of biology (development, neurobiology, infectious diseases, immunology, and genetics). Ongoing scientific projects at the IGC involving the Gnoto / Axenic Facility are related to studies of immuno-compromised mice.
The Gnoto / Axenic Facility is adapted for breeding and experimentation purposes. Rigid and flexible Isolators, transfer chambers and containers are equipped with the Double Door Rapid Transfer Port (DPTE®), a user-friendly and safe connecting system for introducing and removing equipment and other materials to and from sterile isolators. Like other research facilities at the IGC, the Gnoto / Axenic Facility is available to scientists worldwide upon agreement from the Institute's Director. Moreover, scientists who want to work with these mice can be temporarily hosted at the Institute's laboratories if they wish to conduct their own experiments.
Core Facility for Germ Free Research (CFGR), Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
Germ-free (GF) mice are derived and raised in an environment devoid of resident bacterial flora (microbiota). At Karolinska Institutet, GF models are housed at the Core Facility for Germ-free Research (CFGR). Hands-on, user-friendly procedures may be carried out at the recently established GF Satellite unit.
GF Satellite Unit: handle your own GF mice
To provide the infrastructure for a world-class research facility, Karolinska Institutet Mouse Models (KIMM) and CFGR have begun to test, adapt and implement a number of measures which will advance technical interfaces and provide user participation. The first of these would be to create a satellite facility which will exclusively be used to maintain animals in isocages earmarked for specific experiments. Our goal is to integrate a number of existing research platforms at KIMM, Solna in order to aid and expand microbiota research at the satellite unit. This will include interfacing with behavioural and metabolic research facilities in the premises.
CNRS Service Isotechnie of the PHENOMIN-TAAM infrastructure
TAAM is one of the 3 members of PHENOMIN (with Institut Clinique de la Souris at Strasbourg and Centre d'Immunophénomique at Marseille), a French National Infrastructure supported by French government. PHENOMIN as a large scale national infrastructure for Biotechnology and Health, provides services for all French laboratories and is also a major player in the international strategic phenogenomics effort. PHENOMIN aims at implementing mouse genetic engineering, securing zootechny, ensuring animal welfare and ethics, filling the gap in high-throughput phenotyping by developing new relevant functional assays, building a unique resource of models for fundamental research, biotechnological and biopharmaceutical innovation. Each nodes of PHENOMIN has a different expertise and each is specialized in some activities. The three nodes work in synergy (ICS: Genetic engineering and phenotyping; Ciphe: Immunophenotyping; TAAM: Zootechny, Imaging, Distribution and Archiving).
TAAM is a non-profit service unit dedicated to mouse and rat models. TAAM works with more than 500 customers per year from across France and internationally.
TAAM has a long-term experience in archiving and distributing mice strains (alive, fresh and frozen sperm or embryos). TAAM is one of the founder members of the EMMA network and is continuing its mission in Infrafrontier-I3. TAAM dispose of a catalogue of 3500 mouse strains at this day.
TAAM has a strong experience in mouse zootechny under different health status conditions from SOPF to axenic and gnotoxenic into different caging types (open cages, IVC and isolators) and in 8 different facilities. TAAM dispose of more than 50 isolators to maintain mice and rats strains under high sanitary security level. TAAM is providing SOPF or germ-free mice models to a large number of researchers in France or in Europe.
The Institut Pasteur is a private, non-profit foundation. Its mission is to help prevent and treat diseases, mainly those of infectious origin, through research, teaching, and public health initiatives. The Centre for Gnotobiology of the Institut Pasteur (CGIP) is a collaboration partner for the research units of the Institut Pasteur. It consists of a specialized staff, dedicated equipments and rooms and provides services that are necessary to perform experiments on germfree (GF) and gnotoxenic (GX) mice on the campus of the Institut Pasteur:
- the production of GF mice by caesarian section, husbandry, and quality controls by culture and PCR;
- the production of GX mice & implementation of procedures on GF/GX mice with or without infectious agents.
Hannover Medical School (MHH) is medical center, medical school and leading biomedical research organization in Germany. It employs round about 9000 people and is one of the top research medical universities. Transplantation and Stem Cell research/Regenerative Medicine, Infection and Immunology research as well as Biomedical Engineering and Implant Research are most important research topics. In addition, three excellence clusters are present at the MHH.
The Institute for Laboratory Animal Science and Central Animal Facility (Ztm) is a part of MHH and has 120 employees. The facility maintains various animal species such as rodents, swine, sheep, cats, rabbits and fish. The capacity of the Ztm for rodents is up to 80 000 animals. The Ztm covers all aspects of LAS and LAM in service and research including gnotobiology, reproduction biology, genetics, health and infection, anesthesia, small animal imaging, histopathology and animal welfare. The institute has a profound expertise in analysis of various animal models (genetic, immune, and infection models). Furthermore, fully equipped germ-free facility, experimental gnotobiology laboratory, as well as microbiology (bacteriology, virology, parasitology), experimental reproduction, pathology, and genetic laboratories are established to help scientists not only to derive and maintain models and utilize them in experiments, but even to genotype and phenotype them. In addition, imaging modalities like MRI, IVIS, US, PECT/SPECT/CT, Micro-CT and FMT are available. Moreover, animal models could be stored by embryo or sperm freezing after their use as gnotobiotic animals if requested. The work with defined colonized animals is established, which includes the Altered Schaedler Flora and Segmented Filamentous Bacteria, mouse commensals isolated at Ztm, probiotics (e.g. E. coli Nissle or Lactobacillus spp.) or mouse pathogens (e.g., mouse parvoviruses or mouse norovirus).
The Sanger Institute Germ Free capability
The Germ Free/Gnotobiology section is part of the larger animal facilities SPF barrier housing genetically altered and inbred colonies of mice. The facility and its related technical teams provide full mouse genome engineering and genotyping, production and archiving, colony management and experimental capability and maintains around 1100 unique and compound models for studies ranging from developmental disorders, metabolism, pathogens, malaria and cancer.
The small and evolving germ free capability currently breeds and maintains background colonies and a small number of genetically altered models servicing the needs of internal research. These are maintained in flexible film isolators for the main breeding and high level IsoP Individually Ventilated Caging for short term studies. All supplies are provided sterile to the animals with full monitoring of their health and germ free status to ensure the maintenance of their germ free status. Currently the facility can offer the supply of surplus animals to external research groups and is developing its capability over the near future.
All INFRAFRONTIER partners constituting the INFRAFRONTIER2020 Gnotobiology group are active members of the ECGnoto consortium. The overall objective of the consortium is to further develop European expertise in gnotobiology by harmonising common practice in developing and maintaining unique animal models of direct relevance to human health and disease.
Mapping and understanding the interactions between the microbiota and the host is the basis of numerous large projects in Europe and beyond. Essential tools for this type of research are germfree (GF) and gnotoxenic (GX) animals. Several research centres have developed independent resources to generate GF and GX animal models in order to decipher the role of particular symbiotic microbial species during homeostasis or pathology. Ten European centres have joined forces to coordinate their efforts in gnotobiology in the ECGnoto consortium in order to improve exchange of expertise and resources, regarding in particular:
- the co-ordinated production and distribution of GF and GX animal
- the validation of GF and GX status
- the development of technology (i.e. housing equipment)
- the improvement and harmonization of shipping vehicles