The whole-genome sequencing and synthetic biology for improving organisms and creating new life

Bioinformatics Group


Since the development of DNA sequencing technologies in 1960s, Sanger’s chain-termination sequencing and Maxam-Gilbert’s chemical sequencing methods were widely used and were regarded as the first generation of DNA sequencing technologies. At the end of 1980s, the next-generation of DNA sequencing technology was developed, which was originally based on enzymatic method for monitoring pyrophosphate synthesis. The multiple next-generation sequencing technologies have been developed and might be sub-divided into the second and third generations of sequencing including the recently developed nanopore sequencing technology. With the rapid development of these technologies, huge numbers of genomes from various organisms have been sequenced including microorganisms, plants and animals. In this review, we have briefly summarized the recent progress on genome sequencing technologies. Based on our analysis using publicly available datasets, 68176 genomes have been completed in their sequencing, which include 49074 bacteria, 6187 viruses, 12029 eukaryotes, 857 archaea and 29 others. These genomes come from 27310 species of bacteria, 5891 species of viruses, 1514 species of eukaryotes, 701 species of archaea and 59 species for Others. After genome sequencing, many of these genomes have been annotated by assigning their candidate protein coding genes. By the investigation of the genome size and the annotated genes from 56 completely sequenced genomes, our data showed different genomes have different sizes with different protein coding genes and there might not have co-relationship between genome size and annotated genes. Our data also showed that mobile elements significantly contributed to the genome expansion, thereby, contributing to genome size. In addition, we have also briefly reviewed the contribution of genome sequencing to synthetic biology. With the rapid progresses on the whole genome sequencing and functional genomics as well as synthetic biology, it is becoming possible to design and construct novel biological systems to manufacture new drugs / antibodies or new compounds to benefit human beings. Furthermore, cell-free synthetic biology or in vitro metabolic engineering have been progressed well and show the perspectives for biomanufacturing high-value products or for environmental sensing.

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