Overview of UConn MARS
The UConn Microbial Analysis, Resources, and Services facility offers training as well as fee-for-service equipment access and sample processing. Primarily we are a next-gen sequencing facility focused on high throughput sample processing. Our services are designed to meet the needs of the UConn research community but most are also available to non-UConn groups.
Kendra Maas, Facility Scientist
Peter Cardoz, Technician
We offer training through MARS workshops, UConn PSM modules, and one-on-one informal training. The training required for equipment access is instrument specific. Trainings are offered throughout the year and are announced through emails and on the mars.uconn.edu website. Trained users as well as sample processing clients are encouraged to ask facility staff for assistance on any aspect of our services.
MARS Fee-for-service Sample processing
Microbiome and Amplicon Analysis
MARS offers several on-ramps for this analysis. Full service sample processing is available by combining DNA extraction (BSL1 only) with our DNA to data service which includes quantification, library prep, and sequencing at least 10,000 sequences per sample. If you are submitting DNA, we don’t have a hard cutoff for quantity or quality of DNA but be aware the very dilute or impure DNA could lead to difficulty amplifying and/or biased community recovered. If you submit DNA, we recommend at least 50ng in 20ul water/tris/TE. We can also sequence user generated libraries provided that they can use either MARS or Illumina standard sequencing primers (Client Amplicon library to data). Users who either want to control all of the library prep or who are investigating multiple targets, may want to use the 2-step Amplicon to data approach where the user does the initial PCR then we attach the indexes in a second PCR. If you are interested in either Amplicon library to data or 2-step Amplicon to data, please contact us *before* you do any library prep.
For BSL1 isolates, we can extract DNA from cell pellet for full service Isolate Sample to Data processing. We also accept DNA or user generated libraries with no BSL restriction.
Raw sequence data is shared with users through Illumina’s BaseSpace. The data project on BaseSpace will be shared with the email address you provide when submitting a project, please let us know if your BaseSpace account is linked to a different email. MARS also backs up all raw data for at least 1 year on a UConn secure server.
We can assist users with clustering amplicon data or draft assemblies of genomes for a flat rate. We also offer custom data analysis including multivariate statistical analyses and publication quality figures. These services are billed per hour and will be quoted in advance of any work.
Sample processing turnaround time
Turnaround time for our services is dependent on type of service and the number of samples submitted. Our prices are based on multiplexing many samples on each run, therefore fewer samples often take longer to process because we have to wait to fill a run. If you submit full runs of samples (95+ samples) for microbiome sequencing, they are usually completed in 4-8 weeks depending on our current queue. Projects that are different enough from our usual process that we deem it “protocol development”, we won’t be able to estimate turn around but will have regular conversations updating you on the progress.
Users that are more concerned with turnaround time than cost, please talk to us. It is often possible for your samples to be sequenced quickly on less than full runs, you would just need to pay the balance of the run cost.
MARS instrument access
MARS instrumentation can be accessed either unassisted by authorize users or with the assistance of MARS personnel. Assisted use should be arranged in advance through consultation with MARS staff to ensure that the instrument and technician are available at a given time. Currently we don’t have a specific lead time requirement but the further in advance a request is made, the more likely we will be able to accommodate it. Once a user has been trained on an instrument, fill out the Equipment request form to reserve time. Instrument access is billed per whole hour. Each piece of equipment that a user wants to access requires its’ own equipment request form complete with time needed.
MARS Reagent/Consumables Request procedure
Requests need to be made at least one business day in advance. If you have a true emergency, come talk to us but we can’t promise to fulfill your request on the spot.
Your reagent/consumables request needs to explicitly list everything you need (other than pipet tips for the robots) including quantities. MARS’ stocks are fluid, if you request something that we don’t have we will let you know as soon as possible. You can either put the request list in your equipment request form or you can email it directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. Once your reagents/consumables are ready, we’ll email you and let you know where they are. List the volumes of reagents required, but be aware that our aliquots may be larger so you will have left over. (MARS cannot take back partial aliquots)
Acknowledge MARS in grant proposals and publications
Researchers are requested to acknowledge MARS as follows: Microbial Analysis, Resources, and Services, Center for Open Research Resources and Equipment, University of Connecticut. Please acknowledge MARS in all grants and publications that utilize MARS generated data or MARS equipment.