Nature wins hands down when it comes to creating cheap DNA sequencing technology

As hard as we try, we just can’t beat nature at creating efficient and amazing technologies.

In a fascinating feat of science, University of Washington scientists have created a tiny, nanoscale DNA sequencer that is capable of sequencing DNA strands of 42 to 53 nucleotides at a reasonable rate and at a fraction of the cost of conventional sequencing.

The biological sequencer consists of a mycobacterium nanopore placed in a membrane and surrounded by potassium-chloride solution. The DNA strand is pulled through the nanopore by phi29 DNA polymerase, an enzyme associated with replication of the phi29 virus. As the nucleotides pass through the nanopore, a small voltage is applied to create an ion current flowing through the nanopore whose electrical signature changes depending on the type of nucleotide traveling through the nanopore.

The results can be read online in this week’s edition of Nature Biotechnology.

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