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Monday, December 10, 2018

Targeted PacBio Sequencing Adds to Scientific Arsenal in Evolutionary Arms Race

Cotton crops the world over have benefited from the pest-killing protein from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), first used in sprays and then, in 1996, transgenic crops, resulting in reduced insecticide use, enhanced biological control, and increased farmer profits. But the precious plants are under threat once again by a tiny but mighty pest: pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella). In India, where more than 7 million farmers have planted 10.8 million hectares of transgenic Bt cotton, the lepidopteran pest has developed resistance to two different forms of the toxin that made the transgenic crops so effective, creating catastrophic economic losses. Scientists have been…

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Tracking the Tuna: How PacBio Sequencing Could Help Save the “King of the Sea”

Northern Bluefin Tuna Their bodies are big, bony and… warm? Unique among bony fish, Atlantic, Pacific and Southern bluefin tuna have a rare endothermic physiology that has garnered great interest among scientists. Like birds, mammals and some sharks, these kings of the sea are capable of conserving internally generated metabolic heat produced from their swimming muscles and viscera, and maintaining tissue temperatures above that of the environment. The fish are also renowned among sushi enthusiasts for their delectable, fat-laden muscle, and prized by fisherman because of the high prices they command. So the preservation of these species is paramount to…

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Thursday, November 1, 2018

Genetic Code of All Plants, Animals, Protozoa, and Fungi to be Sequenced with Help of PacBio

It’s one of the most ambitious sequencing projects ever attempted — the assembly of all 1.5 million known species of animals, plants, protozoa and fungi on Earth — and SMRT Sequencing will play a major part. The global Earth BioGenome Project and its UK arm, the Darwin Tree of Life Project, were launched in London today in a gathering of the key scientific partners and funders from around the globe. A greater understanding of Earth’s biodiversity and the responsible stewarding of its resources are among the most crucial scientific and social challenges of the new millennium, and overcoming these challenges…

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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Smell of Success: Garlic Study Validates New Approach to Transcriptome Association

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) may be powerful tools for the identification of genes underlying complex traits, but what if you have an incredibly complex, uncharacterized genome, with no sequenced progenitor or related species? A team of scientists from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Changsha, China came up with a solution: a transcriptome-referenced association study (TRAS), powered by our Iso-Seq method. The approach, outlined in this DNA Research paper, utilized a transcriptome generated by SMRT Sequencing as a reference to score population variation at both transcript sequence and expression levels. The team, led by Touming Liu and first author Xiaojun…

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Monday, October 22, 2018

SMRT Sequencing and a Bit of Luck Help Swiss Microbiologists Solve Decades-Old Mystery

It’s a murder mystery of massive proportion, albeit on a miniature scale: Male-killing among several species of insects, caused by selfish symbiotic bacteria. Swiss researchers believe they have finally solved a question that has stumped scientists for decades, with potential implications for pest and infection control. Researchers have identified the toxin responsible for selective killing of male fruit flies (left) using PacBio sequencing. In a recent Nature publication, Toshiyuki Harumoto and Bruno Lemaitre of the Global Health Institute at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland, have reported their findings regarding a toxin in Spiroplasma poulsonii, one…

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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Sequel System 6.0 Release Offers a New Paradigm in DNA Sequencing: Highly Accurate Single-Molecule Long Reads

Today we’re pleased to announce the release of Sequel System 6.0, including new software, consumable reagents and a new SMRT Cell. Combined, the enhancements in the release improve the performance and affordability of Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing by providing individual long reads with greater than 99% accuracy, increasing the throughput up to 50 Gb per SMRT Cell, and delivering average read lengths up to 100,000 base pairs, depending on insert size. These improvements are expected to greatly enhance the accuracy and cost effectiveness of applications such as whole genome sequencing, human structural variant detection, targeted sequencing and RNA transcript isoform sequencing (Iso-Seq method). Estimated…

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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Beloved Barn Swallow Gets SMRT Sequencing “Platinum Genome” Treatment

UPDATED Dec. 3, 2018 Congratulations to the Italian team on the publication of their European barn swallow genome! The paper is now available at GigaScience. ORIGINAL POST Oct. 3, 2018 With its bold blue plumage, russet throat and chipper chirps, the barn swallow is beloved by many avian enthusiasts. It’s also a favorite of scientists, becoming a flagship species for conservation biology. Numerous evolutionary and ecological studies have focused on its biology, life history, sexual selection, response to climate change, and the divergence between its eight subspecies in Europe, Asia and North America. But the full potential of such studies has…

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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Building a Digital Genome Ark: Vertebrate Genome Project Releases 15 New Reference Genomes

The duck-billed platypus genome is one of 15 high-quality assemblies released by the Vertebrate Genome Project When creating a global genomic ark of creatures great and small, scientists are turning to the comprehensive coverage and quality of PacBio sequencing. 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 representing all vertebrate species on Earth. The VGP consortium spent three years selecting technologies and workflows to produce higher quality, “platinum-level” genomes, and SMRT Sequencing was…

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Webinar Summary: Developing Benchmark Sets for Structural Variants

Justin Zook A map of every individual’s genome will soon be possible, but how will we know if it is correct? Benchmarks are needed in order to check the performance of sequencing, and any genomes used for such a purpose should be comprehensive and well characterized. Enter the Genome in a Bottle Project (GIAB), a consortium of geneticists and bioinformaticians committed to the creation and sharing of high-quality reference genomes. Unlike other initiatives, such as the 1000 Genomes Project, that are seeking to sequence many representatives of different populations, GIAB is interested in sequencing just a few individuals, but deeply…

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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Something to Crow About: SMRT Sequencing Aids Conservation of Rare Hawaiian Bird

Brought to the brink of extinction, the future of Hawaii’s only lineage of the crow family (Corvidae) is looking up thanks to intensive conservation genomics efforts using PacBio de novo assemblies. In Hawaiian mythology, the ‘alalā is said to lead souls to their final resting place on the cliffs of Ka Lae, the southernmost tip on the Big Island of Hawaii. As one of the largest native bird populations, it also had a vital role in the ecosystem, helping to disperse and germinate seeds of many indigenous plant species. Disease, predators and shrinking habitats led to a complete loss of…

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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

SMRT Science, Tips & Tricks Presented at Leiden Meeting

SMRT Art: Jewelry created from upcycled SMRT cells by Olga Pettersson. When was the last time you sent your DNA off to a day at the spa? Olga Pettersson of the SciLifeLab at Uppsala University lets her molecules relax for up to a week at room temperature to enable them to untangle, achieve better chemical purity, and better sequencing output. It was one of many practical pointers shared by presenters at the popular three-day gathering of PacBio users in Leiden, Netherlands last month. SMRT Leiden featured the scientific discoveries and analytical achievements of more than 30 speakers. Inge Kjaerbolling of…

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Long Look Into Ant Brains Provides Epigenetic Insights

To understand the epigenetic regulation of brain function and behavior, scientists are turning to ants. To understand the ants, they are applying the accurate, long reads of SMRT Sequencing. While the genetic code of many types of ant have been combed through thanks to several genomes assembled through whole-genome shotgun sequencing, there have only been brief glimpses and guesses regarding gene regulation. Existing assemblies are highly fragmented drafts, making epigenetic studies nearly impossible. Eager to determine the epigenetic changes responsible for phenotypic and behavioral plasticity in Camponotus floridanus and Harpegnathos saltator ant species, a team of researchers from the Epigenetics…

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Maize Collaborators Embark on Ambitious 26-line Pangenome Project

Computational biologist Doreen Ware harvests maize tissue for RNA isolation. Photo by Miriam Chua c/o USDA The first reference genome for maize variety B73, completed in 2009, was a major milestone, and an improved version released by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory scientists in 2017 provided a deeper dive into the genetics of the complex crop. Yet even this new robust reference is not enough for Kelly Dawe, Doreen Ware and Matt Hufford, who have taken up another ambitious project: creating a 26-line pangenome reference collection in just two years. “Maize is not only an important crop, but an important study…

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Monday, June 11, 2018

New High-Resolution Genome Assemblies Expand Our Understanding of Human-Ape Differences

Ever since researchers sequenced the chimpanzee genome in 2005, they have known that humans share the vast majority of our DNA sequence with chimps, making them our closest living relatives. So what, exactly, sets us apart? While prior ape genome assemblies were helpful in finding single nucleotide changes, many researchers speculate that a variation type that is more difficult to resolve, structural differences in regulatory DNA or in the copy number of gene families, play important roles in species adaptation. Large-scale efforts to sequence and assemble more ape genomes over the last 13 years have expanded our knowledge, but many…

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

New Resource for Microbiologists: Collection of 3,000 Bacteria Genomes Released

Haemophilus influenzae, a sample of which was deposited to the NCTC collection by Alexander Fleming, from his own nose. The genomes of 3,000 strains of bacteria, including some of the deadliest in the world, are now available to researchers as part of an ambitious project by the UK’s National Collection of Type Cultures (NCTC), in partnership with the Wellcome Sanger Institute and PacBio. Plague, cholera, streptomyces, and 250 strains of E. coli, are among the reference genomes created, as well as all ‘type strains’ of the bacteria in the collection — the first strains that describe the species and are…

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