Tag Archives: Oxford Nanopore

First Oxford Nanopore MinIon data available: Is this the end of PacBio?

Nanopore SequencingResearchers from the University of Birmingham in the UK last week publicly released data they generated with Oxford Nanopore Technologies’ MinIon nanopore sequencer, the first group to do so since the company started its early access program this spring (see In Sequence report).

The sequence is derived from a Pseudomonas aeruginosa genome and is a single 8.5 kilobase read. It was posted by Nick Loman from the institute of Microbiology and Infection at the University of Birmingham. It was possible to identify the serotype O6. The sequence can be found here. It is of low quality with 71% identity of the spanned region.

Konrad Paszkiewicz, director of the Wellcome Trust Biomedical Informatics Hub and head of the sequencing service at Exeter, has been writing about the group’s experience on the Exeter Sequencing Service’s blog. “Even at this stage, this platform has the potential to steal large chunks out of the market from the likes of PacBio,” Paszkiewicz said.

We will have to wait for more data until we see how useful the technique will be and how the technique is able to compete against other Nanopore sequencers e.g. the device of Genia that was recently acquired by Roche.

Nanopore MinION to be tested and evaluated in Sweden

There are many researchers and service providers who are talking about the MinION from Nanopore on a regular basis. Great things are expected from this innovative sequencing technology.

As previously mentioned, Oxford Nanopore has shipped some MinIon devices to early access users to receive some more data. As one of the few laboratories in Scandinavia, the Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences has been chosen to test one of the latest sequencing technologies from Oxford Nanopore. By the size of the sequencer it is possible to bring the sequencer in the field.

Previously the department has tested leading NGS technologies in research related to the genes involved in the immune system of horses. Now the Nanopore technology will be used, compared and evaluated against the existing well-proven sequencing technologies.

I guess it is just to wait and see what the MinION will bring, if it will come up to expectations or not.

Will Oxford Nanopore´s MinION hold its promises?

When I first heard of the Oxford Nanopore technology, it sounded rather exciting: The company proclaimed a new technology which enabled sequencing with extremely long read lengths of up to 100 kbp at a reasonable accuracy and in a very short time.

The technology is based on so-called “strand sequencing”. This technique involves a protein nanopore, in combination with a specific enzyme. This enzyme is designed to feed a single strand of DNA through the nanopore. The bases of the DNA strand are identified as they pass through the pore.

The sequencing systems are called “GridION” and “MinION”, with the GridION representing a high throughput system, and the MinION being a miniaturised system the size of a USB stick.

NewsFirst data for the GridION system have been presented in February 2012 at the AGBT conference. After that, there had been hardly any news from Oxford Nanopore for a long time. Then in November 2013, Oxford Nanopore announced an early access program for the MinION system on the ASHG meeting. They also gave demonstrations of the system to selected customers in the company´s labs. However, the company did not show any sequencing data yet. In February 2014, Oxford Nanopore has started to issue invitations to the early access program, and the first MinION systems should be shipped soon.

On the AGBT meeting in Feburary, the first MinION sequencing data, generated by Oxford Nanopore and analysed by David Jaffe from Broad Institute, Cambridge, have finally been presented.  However, the first results were rather disappointing: The average read length was way below the expectations. As reported by In Sequence, Jaffe told that the average read lengths were 5.4 kbp and 4.9 kbp for the two bacterial genomes analysed. The raw error rate of the data was not disclosed. However, Jaffe said that there were “long perfect stretches” and “blocks of errors”.  The data was not suitable for de novo assemblies from MinION data alone. In the end, the researchers used the sequences to create better assemblies from Illumina data.

On a Plant Genomics Meeting in Kuala Lumpur in the end of February, Oxford Nanopore Technologies presented more data. They claim that they could “easily obtain” 50 kbp reads. They had generated reads spanning the entire 48 kbp bacteriophage lambda genome. They also show data to underline that the read length distribution obtained by Nanopore sequencing is determined by the size distribution of the input DNA. Slides of the presentation can be viewed here.

Even if the first results are somewhat disappointing, I think this is still an interesting new technique. Like it was with the PacBio system, the technology may need more time to overcome its childhood diseases. The next few months will show if the technology can hold the high expectations that have been raised.