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New DNA sequencer at Otago to benefit NZ gene research

Clocktower from the Leith

Thursday 12 August 2010 8:42am

Cutting-edge New Zealand genomic research is set to be boosted following the acquisition of a new DNA sequencer by the University of Otago.

The University’s High Throughput DNA Sequencing Unit has now completed installation of a state-of-the-art GS Junior (454/Roche) instrument.

The instrument allows swifter completion of small-scale sequencing projects for New Zealand researchers working in areas such as human health and disease, forensics and agricultural and environmental genomics.

The High Throughput DNA Sequencing Unit placed the first worldwide commercial order for the GS Junior, even beating institutions from the United States and China to the punch.

Unit Director Dr Jo-Ann Stanton says it was immediately recognised that the Junior was exactly what the University and New Zealand sequencing community needed.

“Over the last three years we have operated the GS FLX - a larger version of 454/Roche’s ground-breaking pyrosequencing technology. We observed a growing demand for small-scale sequencing projects that did not require a full instrument run, but were too large for traditional sequencing methods. Having the GS Junior means we can turn small projects around potentially within two weeks of receiving a DNA sample,” Dr Stanton says.

“We could hardly believe the excitement that the announcement of the GS Junior generated among our customers in New Zealand; I have never seen anything like it” says Elise Bal, Product Manager Roche Applied Science for New Zealand.

“Given the excellent reputation the GS FLX has, the idea of a smaller scale, easy to operate instrument immediately appealed to Otago University and they did not waste any time ordering one. This has certainly placed New Zealand on the map within Roche globally and as a result the Vice President of R&D of Roche/454 Life Sciences will attend the Queenstown Research Week in August, which is great.”

The GS Junior will sequence over 100,000 DNA molecules, or more than 40 million bases, in around 10 hours. This is enough data to, for example, fully sequence a small bacterial genome or a number of viruses, screen targeted regions from complex genomes for polymorphic markers or mutations, or develop a broad range of microsatellite markers for species for which genomic information is not yet available (as is the case for most of New Zealand’s native flora and fauna).

Dr Stanton says the instrument will help the country’s researchers take fuller advantage of the revolution in sequencing capabilities that has taken place internationally in the last five years.

“It’s a great time to be a molecular biologist. In our work delving into the fundamental secrets of life we now have increasingly ready access to incredibly powerful tools and techniques that a decade ago could only be dreamed of.”

For more information, contact

Dr Jo-Ann Stanton, Director
High Throughput DNA Sequencing Unit
University of Otago
Tel 3 479 7483

GS Junior Services available:

The University of Otago High Throughput DNA Sequencing Unit offers all researchers the opportunity to access new GS Junior technology.

Clients supply purified DNA or RNA samples which Otago’s highly skilled team use to construct template libraries that are then sequenced. The final result consists of data files easily transferred to the clients over the KAREN network or on DVD. Access to Roche’s sequence analysis software is freely available on the Unit’s server or can be obtained from Roche directly, usually free of charge. The Unit can also provide support with analysing the data.

A list of Otago experts available for media comment is available elsewhere on this website.

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