Celebrating 30 Years of Microbial Insights, Inc.
It’s hard to believe that 30 years ago, Microbial Insights was born. Over the past three decades, we’ve evolved into the world leader for molecular biological analyses in a variety of fields. MI CEO, Dora Taggart said, “We are honored to celebrate 30 years of MBTs, and it is all due to the loyal customers, colleagues and world-renowned scientists that have believed in us along the way. During this time, we have analyzed over 100,000 field samples from sites around the world. 2021 was our most successful year in business and we are honored to continue to serve our customers with the highest level of customer service, quality data analysis and unbiased interpretation for the next 30 years.”
As we reflect on the past 30 years, we fondly remember several key moments. There were so many highs and occasionally challenges and forks in the road that brought us to where we are today, and we are eternally thankful for your support. We celebrate you with this milestone anniversary, and we cannot wait to share what’s in store in the future!
Microbial Insights, Inc. (MI) was established in 1992 as a technology transfer company based on the revolutionary research of Dr. David C. White, a pioneer in the development of phospholipid fatty acid analysis (PLFA) and one of the original champions of molecular biological tools (MBTs) in environmental remediation and microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC).
The DNA Laboratory
In 1998, MI became the first commercial laboratory to offer DNA-based techniques to the environmental remediation industry. Always striving to be at the forefront of microbial analyses, MI began to offer quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) analysis in 2002 — only a few years after the introduction of the first qPCR instrument. Since then, MI has developed over 150 qPCR (CENSUS®) assays to evaluate a broad range of microbial processes ranging from biodegradation of chlorinated solvents and petroleum hydrocarbons to MIC. MI is one of the only laboratories with ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation for qPCR analysis from the ANSI National Accreditation Board (Certification #AT-2904).
In 2012, MI began to offer QuantArray®-Chlor, QuantArray®-Petro, and QuantArray®-MIC. Then in 2021, two new QuantArray suites were introduced, QuantArray® -NSZD and QuantArray® -BGC. In addition, MI also offers metagenomics and next generation sequencing (NGS) to better characterize microbial communities.
Bio-Traps®, In Situ Microcosms and In Situ BioreactorsAlso in 1998, MI collaborated with Dr. Kerry Sublette from the University of Tulsa to offer the first Bio-trap Samplers. Throughout our history, MI has been dedicated to the development of analyses and advanced sampling tools to facilitate intelligent site design and management decisions in the environmental remediation industry. Over time, the Bio-Trap® sampler has continued to evolve and also served as the basis of In Situ Microcosms (ISMs) and In Situ Bioreactors (ISBRs).
Stable Isotope Probing (SIP) is an innovative technique to determine whether in situ biodegradation is occurring. With SIP, Bio-Traps® are amended with a 13C labeled contaminant of concern and deployed in an impacted well. Upon recovery, the sampler is analyzed for 13C incorporation into biomass and dissolved inorganic carbon. In essence, the 13C label serves as a tracer. If biodegradation is occurring, the 13C will be detected in the end products of biodegradation — microbial biomass and CO2.
In 2016, the isotope laboratory expanded to also offer Compound Specific Isotope Analysis (CSIA). For some contaminants, isotopic ratios change as the compound is degraded whereas physical processes do not appreciably shirt the ratios. Thus, CSIA can also provide conclusive evidence of contaminant degradation and is routinely used to evaluate biodegradation at sites impacted by chlorinated solvents.
Serving Our Industry and Community
As an integral member of the ITRC Environmental Molecular Diagnostics Team, MI co-authored guidance documents to foster best practices for MBTs in environmental remediation, and MI’s CEO Dora Taggart was awarded Most Valuable Team Member. MI is a certified Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB) and was presented with the Woman Owned Business Excellence Award by the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce. Through our MI Kids and outreach program, we strive not only to educate kids in science but spark a love of learning with fun, hands-on experiments. In recognition of contributions to the community, Dora was honored to receive Business Person of the Year by the Boys and Girls Club of the Cumberland Plateau.
The Future of MBTs
Moving forward, MI will continue to be actively engaged in the development and application of the next generation of molecular biological tools. Throughout our history, MI has been honored to have been awarded research grants from some of the foremost funding agencies, and a recent grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences shows great promise for using metabolomics for remediation and oil and gas purposes. At MI, we strive to honor Dr. White’s legacy of innovation by continuing to transfer laboratory breakthroughs to field applications in order to better address some of the most pressing issues facing the industries we serve.
Commitment to Data Quality
For 30 years, the primary mission at MI has been to provide the most accurate and precise data in the industry to ensure that their clients can use qPCR and other MBT results as an integral part of site management decisions. All laboratories will lay claim to accurate results, but MI has independent validation of their accuracy and precision which cannot be said for other laboratories now beginning to offer MBTs. MI’s accuracy and precision are attributed not only to the quality of their assays and continued investment in instrumentation, but also the experience of their staff and rigorous QA/QC procedures. With over 30 years of experience with a full spectrum of MBTs, MI has a proven track record that cannot be matched by other laboratories.