DNA sequencing is the process of determining the precise order of a DNA molecule. There are four DNA base pairs - adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine - but many different permutations that are possible, making sequencing no easy task.
All living species and viruses contain DNA - including animals, plants, bacteria, and archaea - may have their DNA sequenced. From these organisms, we are able to extract DNA from genes, chromosomes, entire genomes, and mitochondria.
Elucidation of the DNA sequences has provided scientists with a wealth of information.
Furthermore, entire fields have emerged from the ability to view DNA sequences. Patient diagnoses, biotechnology, forensic biology, virology and biological systematics are just a few of the fields that have either emerged or further developed due to the advent of DNA sequencing.
There are two types of DNA sequencing performed: de novo and resequencing.
We've come a long way since the first generation of DNA sequencing in the 1970's. The first human genome sequenced in 2003 took nearly a decade and cost $3bn. As of the year 2015, sequencing an entire human genome takes a little less than $1,000 and a matter of a few days.
Sanger sequencing was one of the early DNA sequencing techniques used. The method was primarily based on capillary electrophoresis. However, even with automation and optimization, it was found to be too slow and costly. Thus, new techniques emerged that involved cyclic methods, where dNTPs were added consecutively and massive parallelization. The methods that incorporated such techniques fell under a family of techniques known as Next Generation Sequencing.
Massive parallilization made it possible to process thousands to millions of sequences concurrently. This resulted in data output increasing at a rate that exceeded Moore's law, more than doubling each year since its inception.
Not only did NGS bring about a wealth of information, but it also uncovered new scientific ideas and revolutionized the way we worked in life sciences.
In this series, we'll go through each DNA sequencing technique. Let's begin with one of the first sequencing techniques that came about in the 70's.
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