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Let the fight begin! – Single-cell genome sequencing at ultra-high- throughput against the rise of a


The rise of antibiotic resistance, resulting from the ability of microbes to evolve themselves in order to avoid being killed by antibiotic drugs, looms upon the future of humanity. Mostly due to the current antibiotic overuse, the rate at which bacteria evolve resistance to drugs is faster than the rate of discovery of new antibiotics to keep pathogenic bacteria under control. The fear of a post-antibiotic era, is that everyday procedures such as medical operations, child birth or even a scratch to the knee can result into life-threatening pathogenic infections without the means (ex. think penicillin) to fight against them.

A better understanding of how antibiotic resistance arises in microbial communities will significantly aid our efforts in adopting successful strategies to mitigate the dangers of antibiotic resistant microbes. A recent publication in Nature Biotechnology showcases a technology that allowed the genome sequencing of 50,000 microorganisms from an artificial microbial community, Additionally, the technology allowed the researcher to analyze the distributions of antibiotic-resistance genes, virulence factors, and phage sequences from a sample from a microbial community recovered from coastal seawater of San Francisco.

The technological innovation allows the trapping of single cells in hydrogen microshperes in order to provide compartmentalised cell lysis, DNA purification, and DNA fragmentation. The compartmentalised DNA pools are then barcoded to enable assignment of genome sequencing results to particular cells from next generation sequencing and in silico analysis.

Can this amazing tool be applied in Synthetic Biology? If anyone has any interesting proposals on how to leverage this technology for novel applications to Synthetic Biology research please get in to touch to bounce ideas and brainstorm!

Article link: http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nbt.3880.html

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