There are two main problems when it comes to sequencing single cells: Whole-genome amplification protocols do not amplify the genome in an unbiased manner, and PCR steps in library preparation introduce additional biases and errors.
The team is employing two sequencing strategies: a metagenomics approach and amplicon sequencing of the 16S and 18S ribosomal RNA genes. In total, 30 to 40 trillion base pairs of sequence data will be generated from the 10,000 samples.
A BGI Americas official recently outlined some previously undisclosed projects and provided updates on ongoing initiatives ranging from disease-related sequencing to de novo assembly of model organisms.
"Given the essential role of microbes for life on our planet, and our lack of understanding of their complexity and diversity, it is critical that we conquer this unknown frontier," BGI's president said in a statement.