Research facilities and expertise

Research facilities

Meise Botanic Garden has a high-quality infrastructure to support its research, including herbarium digitization equipment, microscopes and a fully equipped molecular lab. This research infrastructure is supported by an excellent technical and computing staff. A dedicated team of botanical illustrators collaborates with our researchers to illustrate plant biodiversity.

Molecular laboratory

The molecular laboratory is well-equipped to accommodate most common molecular techniques. This research infrastructure is supported by an excellent technical. 

The laboratory is equipped to perform all the preparatory lab work for sequencing, including quality control of all our DNA samples. The sequencing itself is outsourced. Our lab operates a fragment analyzer, nanodrop, Qbit and qPCR. We also have other common lab equipment, including centrifuges, thermocyclers, and incubators.

For more information, visit the molecular lab webpage [link: https://sites.google.com/a/plantentuinmeise.be/molecular-lab/]

Microscopical imaging

We use several microscopic techniques, including light microscopy, electron microscopy and digital microscopy. We operate a field emission scanning electron microscope (JEOL JSM7100F) to obtain detailed images with magnifications from 25 to 100 000x. Meise Botanic Garden also has a digital microscope (Keyence VHX5000) capable of automatically stacking and stitching high resolution images from medium sized objects (0,1-3cm). This equipment improves the workflow in digitizing tiny herbarium specimens and allows to perform precise measurements on 3D objects without the need for preparing slides.

Expertise and services

The Botanical Garden puts its scientific expertise at the service of the general public and (government) companies. We offer expertise and services in the following areas:

Biological water quality assessment based on diatom composition

The composition of diatom communities is strongly influenced by external factors such as water quality and water temperature. This makes these single-celled algae excellent bioindicators to monitor the water quality of surface waters. – mention that MeiseBG has extensive expertise in diatom taxonomy, which is used to analyse diatom communities for the Flemish Environment Agency (VMM). Further information.

Identification of fungi in homes and buildings

Fungi can cause serious damage to the structure of buildings, and may also be harmful to humans. Meise Botanic Garden provides identifications of fungi from buildings, in which the expertise-reports contain important information about the degree of damage in buildings and possible health hazards, which can be used for remediation plans and the resolution of disputes. Further information.

Development of molecular tools for the detection of illegal logging

High rates of deforestation result in a physical metamorphosis of the world’s vegetation. Although a small fraction of forest logging in tropical regions occurs under severe regulations and international agreements, most logging activities are illegal. A reliable certification of wood is still lacking and causes widespread mal-governance in the timber trade industry. Good taxonomic knowledge combined with rapid and efficacious identification systems are needed for tracing illegal logging activities. Researchers of the Meise Botanic Garden, in collaboration with other European universities and research institutes, are developing identification tools to trace illegally sourced wood and timber in Central Africa using molecular methods. Once applied, these methods will be able to discourage illegal deforestation, and thus improve conservation of African trees. Further information.

Identifications

The Botanical Garden performs identifications of plants, mushrooms, lichens and algae for various other research disciplines, including pharmacognosy, ecology and forensic research.