to BioTechniques free email alert service to receive content updates.
Sequencing News | 2012 Year in Review

12/14/2012
Andrew S. Wiecek

In 2012, the race to the $1000 genome ended with a whimper while metagenomics and microbiome studies were just getting their engines started. Find out what else happened in 2012...


Sequencing News | 2012 Year in Review

In 2012, the race to the $1000 genome ended with a whimper while metagenomics and microbiome studies were just getting their engines started. Find out what else happened in 2012...

Storified by BioTechniques · Fri, Dec 14 2012 10:56:09

The race to the $1000 genome ended in 2012, not with a bang but a whimper. Several promising third-generation sequencers were introduced, but overall adoption of these technologies seems to be going at a turtle's pace. But what was banging even louder in 2012 was the flood of single-cell sequencing techniques. With these new methods, metagenomics, microbiome studies, and sex cell analysis are finally blooming. So, here are some of the top sequencing stories of the past year, in chronological order.
BioTechniques - New Sequencer Promises $1000 GenomeNew Sequencer Promises $1000 Genome Will Ion Torrent's new semiconductor sequencer be the first to usher in the era of the $1000 genome? ...
The year started out hot in the race to the $1000 genome. On January 10, 2012, at the Consumer Electronics Show, Life Technologies and Illumina both introduced instruments that they claimed would be the first to sequence a human genome for $1000. Life Technologies’ platform was the Ion Torrent Personal Genome machine based on semiconductor non-optical sequencing; Illumina’s platform was the HiSeq 2500 based on their sequencing by synthesis method.
BioTechniques - Genome on a StickOxford Nanopore introduces a method to read DNA strands through nanopores and debuts a disposable sequencer that fits in the palm of a ha...
But the following month, it would be Oxford Nanopore that really made some of the biggest waves in the sequencing industry. At the 2012 Advances in Genome Biology and Technology meeting in Marco Island, Florida, the company introduced its MinION portable nanopore sequencer. It was just slightly larger than your average USB drive, so you could hold it in the palm of your hand. And the sequencer—which was designed to be disposable—would cost less than $900.

One commenter on our website announced that we’re getting close to “‘one-day experiment, three-year long analysis’ projects...” Some would argue that we may already be there.   
BioTechniques - Even "Healthy" Vaginas Microbiomes VaryEven "Healthy" Vaginas Microbiomes Vary Every woman has a unique vaginal microbiome, according to a new study that could change how docto...
During 2012, we witnessed the rise of the microbiome. While the Human Microbiome project published its first data in 2010, it wasn’t until this year that their work really came to fruition. In June 2012, the consortium published the largest dataset of the microbes that reside in our bodies along with 16 papers that analyzed this data. But about a month prior to that came a paper that analyzed the microbiomes of vaginas of 32 women over 16 weeks. Not only did the researchers find that these microbiomes vary significantly from woman to woman, but they also found that each woman’s vaginal microbiomes change dramatic from day-to-day.   
BioTechniques - Man's Sex Cells SequencedMan's Sex Cells Sequenced Scientists have sequenced the genomes of a man's individual sperm cells and gotten a closer look at how humans ...
And then in July 2012, Stanford University researchers used a high-throughput microfluidic sequencing system to sequence the individual sperm cells from a 40-year-old man. Stanford bioengineer Stephen Quake had been working on the technology to sequence a single cell for more than a decade. The subject’s genome had been sequenced previously, so the researchers compare it with the sperm genome to identify mutations and recombinations in the sperm cells.    
BioTechniques - Bigfoot Genome?When a company announced last week that they had sequenced the Bigfoot genome, it seemed too good to be true. And probably is. For decade...
And 2012 ended with a story that was incomplete. DNA Diagnostics announced that a Texas veterinarian had sequenced the DNA of Bigfoot and found that he was a “novel hominin hybrid species.” While that certainly made for a great press release, the only problem was that, well, there was a lack of supporting evidence. No data was released from this sequencing project. A paper was reportedly in peer review. So, unfortunately, once again Bigfoot enthusiasts looking for evidence were left with a fuzzy picture that can neither prove nor disprove its existence.

Now that the dust has settled on the drive to reduce the cost of sequencing to $1000 or less, next year we look forward to some advances that address some of the other areas where there remains room for improvement, such as quality, speed, and analysis.