Skip to main content
Intellect

New genome sequencer speeds genetic research

Students and faculty researchers at Brigham Young University will now be able to sequence their genetic samples literally a million times faster than before thanks to a new genome sequencer.

The new machine, funded by a $630,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, can sequence a billion nucleotides in one run and allows professors and students to sequence whole genomes for projects ranging from cancer to cotton.

Keith Crandall, chair of the Department of Biology, will use the sequencer for his collaboration with researchers at Johns Hopkins to study cancers associated with viral infections.

Joshua Udall, an assistant professor of biology and the driving force behind the grant for the device, is using the new machine to sequence the cotton genome. By identifying the genes linked to particular traits like crop yield and drought resistance, he hopes to improve the quality and production of the plant.

Biologists like Udall must slice their samples into millions of segments before sequencing them.

Until now, the College of Life Sciences has been using an older DNA sequencer. The new one employs technology called pyrosequencing, which uses pulses of light to detect the location of nucleotide bases on the DNA strand.

Many universities do not have such advanced equipment, Udall said, so professors at BYU have greater opportunities for research and collaboration with other researchers throughout the country and abroad.

Students will also reap the benefits of the new machine and learn the skills necessary to keep up in a changing industry.

"What gets you into the best Ph.D. programs and the best jobs is having relevant experience and experience with the latest technology," Crandall said.

Those interested in using the machine can sign up with Ed Wilcox in the DNA sequencing center on the sixth floor of the Widtsoe Building. Wilcox works full time to assist faculty, staff, and students. The department chair does not anticipate a long wait to use the machine.

"The output on this machine is so great," Crandall said, "one run will likely give you enough data to work on for years."

The university also supplied matching funds for the grant from National Science Foundation's major research instrumentation program.

"I plan to work really hard to justify the award of this cutting-edge technology and show that it was worth it," Udall said.

More information on the Genome Sequencing System and the DNA Sequencing Center can be found at http://dnasc.byu.edu/index.asp.

Writer: Camille Metcalf

dna.jpg

Related Articles

data-content-type="article"

BYU engineers travel to the Arctic, develop innovative radar method to detect polar bears

May 25, 2022
BYU engineering students are testing radar to track polar bears aboveground. If successful, the team’s work would mark a significant step forward in scientists’ ability to track mother polar bears during winter, when they den and give birth to their cubs beneath dense snowpack. Locating and protecting bear dens is important for conservation efforts.
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type="article"

Forum: It is a dangerous business, going into the laboratory

May 24, 2022
Dr. Paul B. Savage, the recipient of the 2021 Karl G. Maeser Distinguished Faculty Lecturer Award and professor of chemistry and biochemistry, delivered the forum to campus on Tuesday. He discussed some of the adventures and experiences he has had as a professor and researcher, and the concept that Heavenly Father has a great academic adventure planned for all of us.
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type="article"

Going cashless to prevent COVID-19 was useless, new BYU microbiology study finds

May 12, 2022
A new study published in PLOS ONE from BYU scientists finds that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is almost immediately nonviable if deposited on a cash banknote. The virus actually shows greater stability on plastic money cards, with the live virus still being detected 48 hours after initial deposition, but no viable virus was detected on either cash or card that was randomly sampled in the study.


overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText=