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Spring 2017:  The five Ph.D. students from the Bredesen Center’s Energy Science and Engineering (ESE) 530 Business Model Canvas course recently participated in a pitch competition. The event served as the final project/presentation for the semester-long course which explores the launching of a science startup company. UTRF Assistant Vice President of Licensing, Dr. Maha Krishnamurthy, served as a judge for the event.

Floodlight Genomics LLC was founded by UT entomology professor Kurt Lamour to market an application he developed that increases genetic testing capacity while reducing cost. Doctoral candidate Anna Furches presented the winning pitch. Presenters included; Yue Ma (SAFE Bio-fertilizer), Sushmitha Vijaya Kumar (μRNA Technologies), Erica Grant (Quantum Seal Technologies), and Stephen Fatokun (GridOn).

(from the company website)

Floodlight Genomics uses a series of innovations, collectively known as “MonsterPlex”, to PCR amplify 100’s of genetic targets from small amounts of genomic DNA.  The entire process is single-tube.  Indices (barcodes) are added during amplification and the resulting indexed amplicons are pooled. A sequencing library is then constructed from the pooled amplicons for analysis on a next generation sequencing platform (Ion or Illumina).

Our goal is  >20X sequence coverage per target. The overall cost of a project depends on the size of the study and the sequencing technology employed. For example, a study using a MiSeq device to process 380bp targets (>10M paired reads in a 2×300 config) will have a per target cost higher than a study that takes advantage of the sequencing capacity of a HiSeq device with 80bp targets (>100M paired reads).

MonsterPlex was specifically designed to assess genetic variation in 1000’s of samples (e.g. parentage panels or large surveys) but can also be valuable for smaller studies involving 100’s of samples.

MonsterPlex has been blind tested on animals and plants at a commercial scale (e.g. 1000 samples) and demonstrated a low genotype error rate- even for highly complex targets (e.g. containing clustered SNPs and multi-base INDELs). Replication both within and across sequencing platforms has proved similarly robust.

MonsterPlex has been used extensively to amplify targets from mixed samples (e.g. pathogen targets amplified from infected plant tissue)and the opportunities for novel discovery are immense.


The Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education unites resources and capabilities from the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to promote advanced research and to provide innovative solutions to global challenges in energy, engineering, and computation. Read more here.