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Next-Gen Sequencing Takes Root at PAG: Vendors Tout Platforms as User Base Grows

Next-generation sequencing has established firm roots in agricultural science, judging from its presence at this week’s Plant and Animal Genome XV conference in San Diego.
454 Life Sciences and its marketing partner Roche in particular are reaping the fruits of having had a commercial instrument on the market for two years. According to the conference abstracts, 454’s technology is mentioned in more than 20 presentations this year, running the gamut from the chestnut transcriptome to cassava genome sequencing and the genome of Pinot Noir. At last year’s meeting, 454 or pyrosequencing was discussed in approximately 15 presentations.
“We are seeing a very nice increase in customers comparing last year to this year,” said Tim Harkins, marketing manager for genome sequencing at Roche Applied Science.
The plant and animal research community is “fairly important,” he said. “They are a big group within the [sequencing] industry.” (See funding update, in this issue, for a look at sequencing-related grants in 2006 under the NSF’s Plant Genome Research Project program).
Keygene of the Netherlands and Solexa are also co-presenting a poster on an application of Solexa’s new sequencing technology at the conference. The project describes the use of Solexa’s Clonal Single Molecule Array technology for amplified fragment length polymorphism, or AFLP, fingerprint detection.
In addition, Roche/454, Solexa, and Applied Biosystems are all holding workshops at the meeting to showcase their respective sequencing technologies and their applications.
While Roche/454 has lined up users from the Arizona Genomics Institute, the Joint Genome Institute, Stanford University, and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center to talk about genome sequencing, transcriptome sequencing, and RNAi analysis projects, Solexa’s workshop features talks by two of its own scientists. Applied Biosystems’ sequencing and genotyping workshop includes one talk on “a vision for the future of sequencing technology” by one of its senior scientists.

The plant and animal research community is “fairly important,” Harkins said. “They are a big group within the [sequencing] industry.”

“From an Applied Biosystems’ perspective, this is an extremely important meeting across all of our technology platforms,” an ABI spokesman told In Sequence. “It advances these various technologies….to branch out into what we would call applied markets, such as food safety testing, plant and animal genomics, etc.”
Further, as part of the meeting, the National Science Foundation and US Department of Agriculture/Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service
held a workshop for its Microbial Genome Sequencing Program last weekend, which included a discussion entitled “Updates on experiences relating to the advantages and disadvantages of new sequencing technologies (e.g. 454 technology),” as well as a talk by Stephen Kingsmore of the National Center for Genome Resources on de novo 454 assembly and resequencing of Phytophthora capsici, and a talk by 454 user Stephan Schuster of Pennsylvania State University on “Non-Sanger-sequencing and what it might do for Biology".
For a list of conference abstracts from this year’s PAG-XV meeting that included next-generation sequencing, click here.

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