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OpGen, University of Maryland to Codevelop Database of Microbial Sequences

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OpGen and the Institute for Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland will jointly develop a database of high-quality, finished, and annotated microbial sequences, the organizations said this week.

OpGen will provide optical maps and sequence-finishing technology, while IGS will contribute clinically characterized microbial samples and sequencing data from microbial genomics studies. Data will come from the National Institutes of Health's Human Microbiome Project, the NIH-funded Genomic Sequencing Center for Infectious Diseases at IGS, and other sources.

Claire Fraser-Liggett, director of IGS, said in a statement that she and her colleagues are using optical mapping to validate their de novo sequencing projects, which they hope will serve as references for resequencing projects. The optical maps will "raise the standard of high-quality genome sequence data" and will be "of extraordinary value," she said.

According to OpGen CEO Doug White, optical maps are "a perfect complement to next-generation sequencing for assembly and finishing."

A year ago, the company launched its Argus Optical Mapping System for the analysis of microbial genomes. Since then, the instrument has been purchased by a number of laboratories and genome centers, including the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and China's BGI.

OpGen is also collaborating with BGI to apply its optical mapping technology to larger genomes, such as human, animal, and plant genomes (IS 11/9/2010).