DNA Genetic Analysis Concept

How do researchers identify brand-new variations of the infection that triggers COVID-19? The response is a procedure called DNA sequencing.

Researchers series DNA to identify the order of the 4 chemical foundation, or nucleotides, that make it up: adenine, thymine, cytosine, and guanine. The millions to billions of these foundation paired together jointly comprise a genome which contains all the hereditary details an organism requires to make it through.

When an organism reproduces, it makes a copy of its whole genome to hand down to its offspring. In some cases mistakes in the copying procedure can result in anomalies in which several foundation are switched, erased or placed. This might modify genes, the direction sheets for the proteins that permit an organism to operate, and can eventually impact the physical attributes of that organism. In people, for instance, eye and hair color are the outcome of hereditary variations that can develop from anomalies. When it comes to the infection that triggers COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, anomalies can alter its capability to spread out, trigger infection and even avert the body immune system.

We are both biochemists and microbiologists who teach about and study the genomes of germs. We both utilize DNA sequencing in our research study to comprehend how anomalies impact antibiotic resistance. The tools we utilize to series DNA in our work are the very same ones researchers are utilizing today to study the SARS-CoV-2 infection.


The very first human genome took twenty years to series. With advances in innovation, researchers are now able to series DNA in a matter of hours.

How are genomes sequenced?

One of the earliest techniques researchers utilized in the 1970 s and 1980 s was Sanger sequencing, which includes cutting up DNA into brief pieces and including radioactive or fluorescent tags to recognize each nucleotide. The pieces are then executed an electrical screen that sorts them by size. Compared to more recent techniques, Sanger sequencing is sluggish and can process just reasonably brief stretches of DNA. In spite of these constraints, it supplies extremely precise information, and some scientists are still actively utilizing this technique to series SARS-CoV-2 samples.

Since the late 1990 s, next-generation sequencing has actually transformed how scientists gather information on and comprehend genomes. Referred to as NGS, these innovations have the ability to process much greater volumes of DNA at the very same time, considerably decreasing the quantity of time it requires to series a genome.

There are 2 primary kinds of NGS platforms: second-generation and third-generation sequencers.


Second-generation sequencing marks each nucleotide with a particular color.

Second-generation innovations have the ability to check out DNA straight. After DNA is cut up into pieces, brief stretches of hereditary product called adapters are contributed to provide each nucleotide a various color. Adenine is colored blue and cytosine is colored red. These DNA pieces are fed into a computer system and reassembled into the whole genomic series.

Third-generation innovations like the Nanopore MinIon straight series DNA by passing the whole DNA particle through an electrical pore in the sequencer. Since each set of nucleotides interrupts the electrical existing in a specific method, the sequencer can check out these modifications and publish them straight to a computer system. This enables clinicians to series samples at point-of-care scientific and treatment centers. Nanopore series smaller sized volumes of DNA compared with other NGS platforms.


Third-generation sequencing finds modifications in an electrical existing to determine nucleotides.

Though each class of sequencer procedures DNA in a various method, they can all report the millions or billions of foundation that comprise genomes in a brief time– from a couple of hours to a couple of days. The Illumina NovaSeq can series approximately 150 billion nucleotides, the equivalent of 48 human genomes, in simply 3 days.

Using sequencing information to combat coronavirus

So why is genomic sequencing such a crucial tool in combating the spread of SARS-CoV-2?

Rapid public health actions to SARS-CoV-2 need intimate understanding of how the infection is altering with time. Researchers have actually been utilizing genome sequencing to track SARS-CoV-2 practically in genuine time given that the start of the pandemic. Countless specific SARS-CoV-2 genomes have actually been sequenced and housed in different public repositories like the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data and the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

DNA Sequence

Sequencing the genome of an infection provides scientists details on how anomalies can impact its transmissibility and virulence.

Genomic security has actually directed public health choices as each brand-new version has actually emerged. Sequencing the genome of the omicron variation enabled scientists to find over 30 anomalies in the spike protein that enables the infection to bind to cells in the human body. This makes omicron a version of issue, as these anomalies are understood to add to the infection’s capability to spread out. Scientists are still discovering how these anomalies may impact the intensity of the infections omicron triggers, and how well it’s able to avert existing vaccines.

Sequencing likewise has actually assisted scientists determine variations that infect brand-new areas. Upon getting a SARS-CoV-2 sample gathered from a tourist who returned from South Africa on Nov. 22, 2021, scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, had the ability to identify omicron’s existence in 5 hours and had almost the whole genome sequenced in 8. Ever since, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has actually been keeping an eye on omicron’s spread and encouraging the federal government on methods to avoid extensive neighborhood transmission.

The fast detection of omicron around the world stresses the power of robust genomic security and the worth of sharing genomic information around the world. Comprehending the hereditary makeup of the infection and its variations offers scientists and public health authorities insights into how to finest upgrade public health standards and make the most of resource allowance for vaccine and drug advancement. By offering necessary info on how to suppress the spread of brand-new versions, genomic sequencing has actually conserved and will continue to conserve many lives throughout the pandemic.

Written by:

  • Andre Hudson, Professor and Head of the Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences, Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Crista Wadsworth, Assistant Professor in the Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences, Rochester Institute of Technology

This short article was very first released in The Conversation.The Conversation

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