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Jennifer Steinbachs

Last modified: Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Genomics research in Bloomington to grow with acquisition of new sequencer

July 10, 2007

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics at Indiana University Bloomington is acquiring a new genetic sequencing machine in mid-July that CGB staff hope will attract new sequencing projects to Bloomington.

Photo by: David Bricker

The Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics was created in 2000. It will acquire a super-fast genetic sequencer this month (not pictured).

Print-Quality Photo

The GS-FLX genome sequencer, made by Roche, will be only one of 80 such devices in the world. It is blazingly fast, capable of sequencing an entire bacterial genome's As, Ts, Cs and Gs in four to five days. This is the sort of thing that boggles the minds of older molecular biologists, who once were accustomed to such projects taking years to complete.

"We plan to use the new sequencer for 'de novo' sequencing of genomes, re-sequencing of previously sequenced genomes (particularly to hunt for mutations), genotyping, cDNA sequencing for gene discovery and microRNA sequencing," said CGB Deputy Director Jennifer Steinbachs.

CGB has already been an engine behind a number of major sequencing and genome-related projects, including the first transcribed genetic map of the sunflower, which is helping researchers identify genes that control the economically important crop's ecological and agricultural traits. The center also identified the interactions among different species of bacteria that live in the disease-carrying tick Amblyomma americanum. CGB staff also recently helped complete a first pass of the water flea genome. A collaboration with IU Biology faculty, enabled by the purchase of a laser capture microscope, examines tissue-specific gene expression in Drosophila (fruit flies).

CGB was created in 2000 by the Office of the Vice President for Research and the College of Arts and Sciences with seed funding from the Indiana Genomics Initiative, or INGEN. IUB biologist Peter Cherbas is its first director. CGB staff are currently working on 60 projects with collaborators from IU and other institutions. The center occupies 4,000 square feet in Jordan and Myers halls and has grown from a handful of staff to 38 full- and part-time employees.

The GS-FLX costs about $500,000, and was purchased with a grant from the Indiana METACyt Initiative that also covers maintenance and operational costs. IU Bloomington evolutionary biologist Mike Lynch is the grant's primary author. Lynch, an expert on the evolution of genomes and genome architecture, is also a project leader in CGB's Genomics division.

"Not only will the new sequencer allow us to do current projects faster and more effectively, but we will be able to take on new projects in collaboration with other scientists from around the world," Steinbachs said. "Needless to say, we're very excited."

To speak with Jennifer Steinbachs, please call 812-856-1858 or e-mail