Large-Scale Global Genome Projects Choose PacBio Sequencing To Help Decode Life

September 14, 2018

By Bio-IT World Staff

September 14, 2018 | The Vertebrate Genomes Project (VGP), an international consortium of more than 150 scientists from 50 academic, industry and government institutions in 12 countries, recently released the first 15 of an anticipated 66,000 high-quality reference genomes that will eventually include all vertebrate species on Earth. These new genomes are the most complete genomes created to date for these species, and roughly double the number of high-quality animal reference genomes with comparable levels of combined contiguity, completeness, and accuracy in the public domain.

The VGP is one of many large-scale international projects that have chosen PacBio Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing to generate some of the most complete genomes to date for thousands of plant, animal, fungal, and bacterial species. These comprehensive catalogs of genetic code provide valuable resources to researchers in their quest to understand the biology, physiology, development and evolution of a multitude of living organisms, and will aide in their conservation.

“We are honored to work with world-class researchers to generate high-quality genome references and support large-scale efforts such as the VGP,” Jonas Korlach, Chief Scientific Officer of Pacific Biosciences, said in a press release. “We are looking forward to continuing our involvement in projects like these to benefit science, society, and the environment.”

Researchers are using PacBio’s advanced technology to create high-quality reference genomes, which become highly curated representations of the species for the community to which all individuals of that species are compared. The information provided by these detailed DNA analyses can help in the conservation of animal species and their habitats; it may also have implications for the human species.

Bats, for instance, are reservoirs for some of the deadliest viral diseases, including Ebola and SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), but somehow they survive. Figuring out why could increase our understanding of immune function. Information gleaned from their genomes could also contribute to our understanding of human aging and boost agricultural productivity and ecosystem restoration, according to Sonja Vernes of the Max Planck Institute, a leader of the Bat1K initiative.

“The long-read sequencing technology from PacBio is allowing us to produce bat genomes of unprecedented quality and resolution as part of the Bat1K project,” said Vernes in an official statement. “This is going to be a big step forward for understanding how the genes and also the non-coding DNA in these genomes influence the weird and wonderful features of bats.”