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“Zone in with Zon”—Pac Bio Potential, Nanopore Progress, Peleogenomics

Dr. Gerald Zon’s latest “Zone in with Zon” blog post, July 29, 2013, highlights three fascinating topics presented at the 3rd Next-Generation Sequencing Conference in San Francisco, June 18-21, 2013. One was Pacific Biosciences’ “uniquely powerful single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing of modified DNA.” Dr. Zon noted that, in addition to providing amazingly long read lengths (up to 20 kb) to facilitate genome assembly, Pac Bio SMRT sequencing gives data related to kinetics of nucleotide incorporation. He noted as particularly exciting the fact that SMRT sequencing can be used for direct sequencing of phosphorothioate (PS) linkages in DNA. Dr.Zon said that naturally occurring PS-DNA is a relatively recent and quite surprising discovery still being elucidated. Secondly, Dr. Zon described Nanopore’s Professor David Deamer’s presentation, which included descriptions of both progress and challenges in the field of nanopore sequencing. Dr. Zon indicated some skepticism regarding Professor Deamer’s prediction of commericaliziation in “six months or so,” based on Dr. Zon’s personal experience with timelines for producing complex automated systems. Finally, Dr. Zon reported that Professor Eske Willersley said that the draft genome of a 700,000-year-old horse fossil is the oldest full genome sequenced to date. Professor Willersley further estimated that sequenceable DNA should be obtainable from fossils one million to two million years old. Dr. Zon is an eminent nucleic acid chemist and Director of Business Development at TriLink BioTechnologies in San Diego, California. [Zon blog post]