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Next-generation sequencing technology opens doors to discoveries
Date:6/13/2012

Discoveries unfathomable only a few years ago are reality today at the Texas AgriLife Genomics and Bioinformatics Service with the acquisition of next-generation sequencing technology on the Texas A&M University campus in College Station, said the director of the service.

"As we move into the genome-sequencing era, we are entering a truly amazing period in history," said Dr. Charles Johnson, director of the service. "Our mission is to facilitate scientific discoveries by guiding and empowering scientists across the Texas A&M University System over an increasingly complex and technologically advanced terrain."

The genomics and bioinformatics service was established in the fall of 2010, but it is the recent purchase of the Illumina HiSeq 2500 next-generation sequencing system that will give the team led by Johnson the capability to make a huge impact on crop breeding.

"Although focused on plant breeding, this machine has the potential to sequence the equivalent of the human genome in one day for as little as $1,000," Johnson said. "It took more than 13 years to do the original human genome project, and cost $2.7 billion.

"We can also mix large numbers of samples within one lane using sequencing-based bar coding to provide cheaper per-sample pricing," he said, "which in turn leads to larger studies and greater scientific discoveries."

One of the keys to this technology is bioinformatics analysis, or analyzing the tidal wave of data and turning it into usable information, Johnson said. AgriLife has invested significant resources in this area as well.

He compared it to a giant puzzle, and the team of bioinformaticians, geneticists, statisticians, mathematicians and computer scientists are the ones who put the DNA information pieces together to make the complete picture.

Dr. Bill McCutchen, AgriLife Research executive associate director, said this genomics capability will be of particular importance t
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Contact: Kay Ledbetter
SKledbetter@ag.tamu.edu
806-677-5608
Texas A&M AgriLife Communications
Source:Eurekalert  

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