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A Hands-On Activity for Introducing Next-Generation DNA Sequencing and Bioinformatics

Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) is the current standard for providing genomic data which is of key importance in for microbiome research and addressing issues in public health.  The APC Microbiome Institutes state of the art DNA sequencing technology allows researchers to accurately assess the composition or functional potential of the gut microbiota and microbiota of other environments, assess the microbiota impact on health and disease and establish the impact of interventions e.g. dietary, probiotic, prebiotic, antibiotic and/or chemotherapeutic, on these populations.

Guerrino Macori, a postdoctoral scientist in Paul Cotter’s group, describes a hands-on activity for students to represent the chemistry underlying Illumina-based NGS, by creating representative reads using LEGO blocks, to link indexes, assemble the sequence and ‘identify’ the bacteria from which the DNA originated, thereby, introducing students and the general public to the basic principles of bioinformatics.  The paper, published in  the Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education, describes the materials necessary and provides instructions to carry out the lesson and hands on activity as well as quizes to evaluate learning.

Full reference: Guerrino Macori, Angelo Romano & Paul D Cotter (2017) Build the Read: A Hands-On Activity for Introducing Microbiology Students to Next-Generation DNA Sequencing and Bioinformatics  J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2017 vol. 18 no. 3 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v18i3.1363