Writing in Nature Biotechnology, a team led by investigators at the US National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center this week presents "a correction algorithm and assembly strategy that uses short, high-fidelity sequences to correct the error in single-molecule sequences." To demonstrate the utility of this approach, the researchers applied it to reads generated by a PacBio RS platform from phage, prokaryotic and eukaryotic whole genomes, including the previously unsequenced genome of the parrot, Melopsittacus undulates. Overall, the team says its long-read correction approach achieved greater than 99.9 percent base-call accuracy, "leading to substantially better assemblies than current sequencing strategies."
In a statement, Duke University's Erich Jarvis, co-author on the Nature Biotechnology study, says plans to use this hybrid single-molecule sequencing approach to learn more about the sequences that are thought to regulate parrots' abilities to imitate sounds.
"By being able to decode and organize the DNA that regulates these regions, neuroscientists may be able to better understand what genetic mechanism causes birds to imitate and sing well," the Duke release adds. "They may also be able to collect more information about genetic factors that affect a person's ability to learn how to communicate well and to speak, Jarvis said. He and his team plan to describe the biology of the parrot's genetic code they sequenced in more detail in an upcoming paper."