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DNA gives new perspectives to understand the mysteries of nature

NA in the many samples.

A new sequencing machine (454 parallel sequencing, GS20, Roche/454 Life Sciences) capable of interpreting millions of pieces of DNA in just a few hours was recently introduced. The machine alone brought in a revolution to the field, but have certain disadvantages and shortcomings. Firstly, an analysis made by the machine is quite expensive. Each analysis costs approximately DKK 45 000 (equivalent to $ 7 500) and although the machine reads extensive amounts of DNA material, the cost is still considerable to a research project. Secondly, a vital problem arises when researchers try to benefit from the machine's enormous capacity by analyzing samples from multiple locations or specimens in a single run in order to reduce costs. The machine simply cannot separate more than 16 samples from each other.

Eske Willerslev went to check out the machine for himself at the Danish Cattle Research Centre in Foulum the only place in Denmark, which operates the new sequencing machine. He realized to his great disappointment that the researchers at the University of Copenhagen could not make use of the machine for their respective projects due to the disadvantages mentioned above. Not being able to benefit from the technology available to make their work easier, faster and even much more efficient was naturally a major upset to his team

A simple but brilliant idea

Then Jonas Binladen, a PhD student from his team, came up with a simple but brilliant idea: By putting a 'finger-print' attached to the fishing hooks (tagged primers) used to amplify DNA from each sample, one should in theory be able to localize each of the million sequences produced in each run, to its original sample or specimen. By making it possible to process amplification products from multiple samples or specimens in the same run, the team could make use of the machine's great capacity.

The research team now wanted to test the idea. And it
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Contact: Gertie Skaarup
skaarup@nbi.dk
453-532-5320
University of Copenhagen
13-Feb-2007


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