Why Should I Choose Whole Genome Sequencing?
Ten years ago this would have been a valid question, and to some regard still is, but a more fitting question for the age of technology we find ourselves in today is, "Why NOT choose whole genome sequencing?". Ten years ago, according to the NIH, the cost per genome hovered right around $10M, but due to scientific and technological advancements the $1,000 genome is now a reality. What used to be reserved for large corporations and research projects receiving astronomical funding is now available to even the smallest university labs. A major impact upon the cost of whole genome sequencing is the advancement of sequencing technology itself. High-throughput sequencing, also known as next-generation sequencing (NGS), has made whole genome sequencing largely accessible due to its capability for producing millions of reads. The capability of NGS instruments, such as the Illumina HiSeq, to produce millions of reads is what truely unharnesses to the power of whole genome sequencing; deep sequencing coverage.
One key benefit to choosing whole genome sequencing (WGS) over targeted sequencing methods is that WGS allows researchers an all-inclusive look at the genome in question. Where previous sequencing technologies and other methods lack, NGS platforms excel. High-throughput sequencing allows researchers to detect small and rare genetic mutations such as INDELs and SNPs. With the increased sensitivity that NGS platforms bring to whole genome sequencing, the field of personal medicine is exploding. Cutting-edge research is being performed in fields such as Oncology and Immunology with the goal in mind of not only treating a certain cancer or auto-immune disease as a whole, but formulating a treatment plan based on the individual with that certain diagnosis.
Now don't limit yourselves to only thinking that WGS is specifically for large genomes . Due to the scalability of certain NGS platforms, the power of whole genome sequencing can be applied to research of bacteria, fungi, and other microbial organisms. The sequencing depth achieved by NGS platforms allows researchers to truly take advantage of whole genome sequencing when it comes to sequencing small genomes, such as bacterium, because several bacterial genomes can be sequenced in parallel saving both time and money.