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U Texas at Austin Outfits Genome Sequencing Facility with Applied Biosystems Machine

The College of Natural Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin will be adding the Solid System from Applied Biosystems for genomic analysis as part of its new Genome Sequencing and Analysis Facility. The new instrument will allow researchers to expand their studies to rapidly catalog large genomes and perform a variety of applications that include transcriptome analysis and targeted resequencing, among others. New sequencing technologies provide insight into the methods of structural and functional genomics, which were previously accessible for only a short list of well studied models such as humans or fruit flies.

The life science industry generates vast amounts of data with next-generation sequencing systems. However, university researchers anticipate applying the large-scale computing power provided by the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) to manage, store, and analyze data generated by the Solid System. The proximity of this facility will enable them to quickly analyze the enormous amounts of data produced by the Solid platform, which is capable of generating a minimum of 20 billion bases of mappable sequence data per mate pair sequencing run.

For example, one team of researchers plans to use the Solid System to conduct comparative genomics studies in coral reefs to identify genetic differences between various biological species. This particular team, led by Mikhail Matz, an assistant professor of integrative biology, will investigate coral populations to identify the molecular mechanisms of acclimation and adaptation to global climate change. These findings are expected to help determine coral biology and conservation practices needed to improve coral survival. "We are currently moving on to gene expression analysis and whole-genome genotyping, using novel protocols based on next-generation sequencing technologies," said Matz.

Another group of researchers will conduct resequencing studies in candidate genes in disease pathways. "High-throughput sequencing systems, such as the Solid System, make resequencing candidate genes from individuals suffering from disease dramatically easier," said Edward Marcotte, professor of biochemistry. "For example, we can now sequence 100 candidate genes from 100 patients for the same price as sequencing one gene from 100 patients using the conventional technology."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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