METASTAVA: Standardisation and validation of metagenomics methods for the detection of foodborne zoonoses, antimicrobial resistance and emerging threats



Next generation sequencing (NGS), metagenomics, method validation, diagnostics, quality assurance

Project Abstract

METASTAVA aims to evaluate the potential use of metagenomic analysis to the public health reference laboratory by targeted collection of reference data and reference materials, by generating focused validation data, and by proposing criteria and tools for a robust quality assurance (QA) of metagenomic workflows from sample selection to interpretation of result.

Metagenomic analysis is increasingly used to identify possible causes of unexplained disease outbreaks, to complement routine diagnostic evaluation, and to study the role of the microbiome and virome in health and disease. Currently, standardisation of metagenomics data generation and analysis tools is  being sufficiently covered by other ongoing initiatives (including COMPARE). However, translating these promising technological developments into diagnostic tools for veterinary and public health laboratories requires careful validation, which is the focus of this project.

In order to use Metagenomic analysis for robust diagnostics,  METASTAVA identified several important gaps in our knowledge of NGS and metagenomics that must be filled:

  • Development of a set of reference data for the model pathogens, representing most common sample types
  • Development of harmonised workflows for the generation and analysis of metagenomic data fitting to a defined diagnostic scope for the model pathogens
  • Development of a validation protocol for metagenomic diagnostics (including quality assurance and robustness testing).

The METASTAVA project is addressing the identified gaps and using hepatitis E virus (HEV), norovirus (NoV), zoonotic pox viruses, antibiotic resistant bacteria and Shigatoxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC), as model pathogens in developing the methods and reference datasets.

In short, where ongoing initiatives invest in the standardisation of metagenomics tool sets, METASTAVA wants to bring metagenomics to the diagnostic laboratory.

Project Domain

Foodborne Zoonoses

Project Events

METASTAVA Annual Meeting 18th February 2019

Project Publications and Public Deliverables

More information to follow.

Lead Contact

Steven Van Borm (Sciensano)



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