Rich Roberts discusses single-molecule sequencing technology with Biome reporter. part 4
Of all the different benefits of SMRT sequencing, which do you think will be the most persuasive in getting people to adopt it?
I suspect that the accuracy of the sequence and the ability to easily close small genomes will be an important selling point. At present GenBank is littered with shotgun sequences that for the most part are close to worthless because they tell you very little about the organism from which they came. This is because you never know what is missing – it could be the gene you are most interested in!
In contrast a complete genome sequence is invaluable as it tells you the full genetic potential of the organism. All we need to do now is to improve our bioinformatics so that we can properly interpret that DNA sequence. Unfortunately, we are not spending enough money doing the functional analysis of the sequences we are obtaining and our biological research agenda is suffering because of it. Just at the moment we should be greatly increasing our efforts to gain functional insights into the millions of genes we are discovering by sequencing and for which we either have no idea of what they do, or many of our predictions are simply wrong. But the only way we will know if they are wrong is by critically testing selected subsets of them. I don’t see anything like enough funding to do this. It is very short-sighted of NIH and the biological community not to demand more functional annotation of the genomes we are sequencing.