It was a pleasure to co-sponsor the Pacific Biosciences user group meeting in Baltimore this week. Based on our participation at the same event last year, we had high expectations for it — but even these were surpassed by the quality of speakers, number of attendees, and excellent presentations.
Naturally, the vast majority of talks focused on using the uniquely long reads generated by Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT®) Sequencing to do all sorts of interesting projects that can’t be accomplished with short reads. Luke Tallon from the University of Maryland and Adam Phillippy from the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center spoke about microbial genomics, Cold Spring Harbor’s Dick McCombie presented work in yeast and plants, and human genome studies were reported by Ali Bashir at the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology and Tina Graves-Lindsay at Washington University. Other speakers covered more recent applications of SMRT Sequencing, such as metagenomics, full-length isoform sequencing, methylation analysis, and more.
At this meeting last year, we were delighted to have a couple of speakers mention our automated BluePippin size selection tool, which can be used with the PacBio platform to filter out smaller DNA fragments; this allows the sequencer to focus on long fragments, increasing efficiency and average read length. This year, it was a tremendous honor to find that nearly every speaker mentioned using BluePippin. We had that and the new SageELF whole-sample fractionation tool on display at the user group meeting, and we were bowled over by how many attendees came by to check them out. This group kept us on our toes!
It was also great to hear that BluePippin users are already anticipating how they might use the SageELF in their SMRT Sequencing workflows. Some speakers mentioned the possibility that whole-sample fractionation could be used to capture plasmids and other small parts of an organism’s accessory genome that could otherwise be filtered out by the high-pass protocol. We’re eager to see how that and other applications could make these remarkable research efforts even better.