In a new study in Nature Biotechnology, the University of Birmingham's Nicholas Loman and his colleagues compare three desktop sequencers and analyze their strengths and weaknesses, reports Nature News' Erika Check Hayden. The team used the Roche 454 GS Junior, the Illumina MiSeq, and Life Technologies' Ion Torrent Personal Genome Machine to sequence the genome of the E. coli strain that struck Europe last year, Hayden says. Loman tells Nature that the Ion Torrent PGM has the most throughput per hour, while the MiSeq is best for accuracy and highest throughput per run, and the 454 GS Junior generates the longest reads. They all have weaknesses, he says, adding, "Part of the point of our paper is that genome sequencing is not a one-size-fits-all solution."
Up until now, however, people have had to rely on the marketing literature from these companies to learn about the technologies, Loman says. "These kinds of comparisons are fairly rare, and there's definitely more scope for systematic evaluation of platforms," he adds. "At the moment a lot of the comparison is done by rumour and innuendo, and there's definitely scope for opening that up. And nowadays, a lot of these platforms let you put your results straight into the cloud, so there's no reason why that can't happen."