Back from Baltimore and the Stellar PacBio UGM

Earlier this week Pacific Biosciences hosted a user group meeting at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, and we were pleased to participate in and co-sponsor the event. As our blog readers know, we recently announced a co-marketing partnership with PacBio to provide BluePippin size selection to PacBio users to help them generate longer average read lengths.

At the user group meeting, about 100 attendees came to discuss their own experiences with the sequencing platform and to learn how other people were pushing the boundaries on read length, DNA input requirements, and more. It was great to see so much enthusiasm for PacBio’s sequencer. This is a really engaged community — almost every presentation was followed by several questions and often lively discussion within the audience as people shared their own methods or results.

A key theme at the meeting revolved around the dramatic improvements in throughput and read length since the PacBio system first launched. Speakers got in the habit of noting what year certain data had been generated as shorthand to help attendees understand how the data might look today if the experiment were run with newer enzymes, reagents, or hardware. A speaker from Baylor noted that since receiving their instrument, throughput has increased more than 10-fold while average read length has jumped from 1.5 Kb to 7 Kb. Here at Sage, we are proud to be part of that growth in read length — and we were glad to see speakers reporting a significant boost in average read length with the incorporation of BluePippin into the workflow.

With these extraordinarily long reads, many of the speakers presented information on genetic elements or attributes that have never been seen before, including connections of distant tandem repeats, genome-wide methylation in pathogens, and fully sequenced mRNA transcripts. There was also quite a bit of excitement around moving toward de novo mammalian sequencing with the PacBio workflow, which can currently perform de novo sequencing and automated assembly/finishing of microbial genomes.

From Sage Science, Chris Boles offered an update on BluePippin for PacBio. (For the current protocol, click here.) He presented data from one genome center showing a project in which the N50 median read length of 4,800 bases was boosted to 9,100 bases by adding BluePippin to remove smaller fragments from the library. Boles also reported that we are working to develop additional protocols with PacBio to keep extending those N50 numbers. We look forward to continuing to help PacBio users generate even more impressive read lengths from their sequencers!

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