Dr. Praveen Gupta
Introduction to Whole-Genome Sequencing
Whole-genome sequencing is the most comprehensive method for analyzing the genome. Genomic information has been instrumental in identifying inherited disorders, characterizing the mutations that drive cancer progression, and tracking disease outbreaks. Rapidly dropping sequencing costs and the ability to produce large volumes of data with today’s sequencers make whole-genome sequencing a powerful tool for genomics research.
While whole-genome sequencing is commonly associated with sequencing human genomes, the scalable, flexible nature of next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology makes it equally useful for sequencing any species, such as agriculturally important livestock, plants, or disease-related microbes.
Agriculture, the science of breeding in crops and animals, has been vital to the evolution of Homo sapiens and their nourishment. Given the environmental changes, population expansion, and the increasing demand for nutrition, the need to optimize food production is and will be of fundamental importance in the coming years.
Genomic selection (GS) is based on the principle that information from a large number of markers distributed across the genome can be used to capture diversity in that genome, sufficient to estimate breeding values without having a precise knowledge of where specific genes are located. It was first described in 2001 by Meuwissen and colleagues and hinges on developing a breeding equation using
a training population with known favorable (and unfavorable) traits. Breeders have been using molecular markers for decades, but working on unknown genomes has been challenging. Genetic information consisted of linkage maps with a few hundred markers, at most, which did not fully represent the desirable traits. Furthermore, a priori knowledge about a species’ genome and markers’ loci was necessary in order to use them.