About SCGC

SCGC® is a nonprofit research and service center at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, with its primary focus on microbial single cell genomics. Our mission is to make single cell genomics accessible to the broad research community and to serve as an engine for discoveries in microbial ecology, evolution, bioprospecting and human health.

Single cell DNA sequencing, pioneered by SCGC scientists, reads the genomic blueprints of the most fundamental units of life without the need for cultivation. This is a powerful approach to analyze biochemical properties and evolutionary histories of uncultured microorganisms, thought to constitute over 99% of biological diversity on Earth. Single cell genomics is also emerging as a revolutionary technology in the studies of cancer, autoimmune diseases and hereditary disorders.

SCGC is the first shared user facility of its kind. Since its establishment in 2009, SCGC developed partnerships and supported research projects at over 100 universities, research institutes, and companies in six continents. Over 1,000,000 individual cells have been processed through our high-throughput pipeline. Sources of these cells range from diverse marine environments, to soils, the deep subsurface, gut contents, and others. This has provided unique genomic data from many major evolutionary branches of bacteria, archaea, and eukarya that resist cultivation, making a significant impact on our understanding of life on our planet.

Although invisible to human eyes, unicellular microorganisms are the oldest, the most abundant, and the most diverse forms of life. Over 99% of microorganisms remain uncultured, making them inaccessible to many classical microbiology methods. Uncultured microorganisms dominate many functions of the biosphere, including the productivity of the oceans, the fertility of soils, the health of plants and animals, including humans, and the global cycles of carbon, nitrogen, and other elements. This “microbial uncultured majority” also harbors an enormous potential for novel natural product discovery and bioenergy production.

User fees are charged to cover SCGC operational expenses. SCGC equipment acquisition, infrastructure upgrades and initial method development have been supported, in part, by the U. S. National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the State of Maine Technology Institute.