New Publications Ponder the Basics of Life and What Makes Us Human

Two recent papers published in Science are not only landmarks in their fields, but also feature our BluePippin automated DNA size selection platform. We’re honored to be included in these important publications.

The first paper, “Design and synthesis of a minimal bacterial genome,” comes from Clyde Hutchison, Craig Venter, and collaborators. The team built a bacterial genome containing just 473 genes determined to be necessary for life. The achievement followed a robust testing process in which each gene in the Mycoplasma mycoides genome was systematically altered to determine whether it was necessary for the organism’s survival. After stripping out all non-essential DNA, the scientists were left with a 531 Kb genome. Interestingly, the function of nearly a third of all genes included in the final genome has not been determined. The team used BluePippin’s High-Pass protocol with the PacBio RS II for de novo assembly of the artificial genome.

The second paper comes from scientists at the University of Washington, the McDonnell Genome Institute, and other organizations. “Long-read sequence assembly of the gorilla genome” used PacBio sequencing to improve assembly quality by 150x compared to previous drafts of the gorilla genome, closing 93 percent of gaps and adding a significant amount of new sequence. Scientists got the best view yet of structural variation, ancestral evolution, and genetic diversity within our primate cousin, and created a valuable resource that will allow the community to make even more discoveries — especially about the difference between humans and closely related primates. BluePippin helped the scientists maximize read lengths by removing smaller fragments prior to sequencing.

Taken together, these publications get us a few steps closer to understanding life at its most basic level, as well as what makes us human. We’re eager to see how the research community will build on these great advances in the future.

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