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All About Next Generation Sequencing

The field of genetics has witnessed revolutionary new technologies and trends in the last decade. One of the groundbreaking breakthroughs is the next generation sequencing. This technology has equipped the researchers for determining the DNA sequences of entire genomes of bacteria. This has led to the evolution of metagenomics which is a field to study sequencing the genetic makeup for an entire community. Small samples of microbes are extracted and their combined DNA is studied using next generation sequencing.

Inarguably the most significant technological advances in the biotechnology sphere, this technique has allowed experts to simultaneously sequence several genomes in a single instrument in less than two weeks. The targeted methods for DNA enrichment allow higher genome throughput at a much lower cost per sample. The technique is now being implemented in the cancer field to study its genetic aspects. Over the span of a few years only, next generation sequencing has matured to the point where it is being run routinely by the leading laboratories of the world for diagnostic purposes. The main attractions of the technique are the sophisticated sensitivity, the speed and the reduced expenditure per sample.

The next generation sequencing

The experimental samples can be collated from any biotic or abiotic ecosystem such as soil, water etc. They can also be acquired from extreme environments such as arctic or hot springs. These contain millions of microbes and fungi which cohabitate together. The sample is then analysed and then sequencing occurs as per the desired needs.

Next generation sequencing basically deals with the ability to sequence massive DNA templates on parallel basis. These help carry the evolution process from second and third generations form the first generation 'Sanger' sequencing. To achieve this, the second generation platforms deploy amplification by cloning of DNA on a support matrix which is followed by cyclic sequencing. There are numerous benefits of this procedure.

Some of these are:

  • Reduced costs
  • Removal of PCR bias
  • High speed
  • Sensitivity

However, this is to be noted that the technique is still maturing and it is likely to rival the second generation techniques in a few years and enter mainstream medical arena.

The motivators of next generation sequencing

  • Identification of species

One of the main purposes of studying next generation sequencing is to identify species. The technique has eliminated the limit of laboratory by sequencing the bacterial colonies into communal groups. The high end software developments have allowed the processing of sequenced data into individual bacterial genomes and their identification.

  • Provision of simplified understanding of the ecosystem of samples

The metagenomic study has enabled the scientists to gain better insights in the environment of the sustaining bacteria. This gives a better understanding of the physiology and structure of the breeding species. This helps in derivation better results and in depth analysis into the mutual relationship which aids the co-existence of both species.

Thus, next generation sequencing helps in understanding the existence of biospheres. This, in turn helps deduce important information in the field of medicinal biology. With the help of this technique, the scientists are able to develop effective medicines and vaccines for the pathogens. Over time, the technique may even prove valuable in the other bioinformatics fields.