SMRT Sequencing Reveals Biodiversity

Guelph, Canada. December 10, 2019

The Centre for Biodiversity Genomics (CBG), the global leader in DNA barcoding, has activated Canada’s first Sequel II System – a cutting-edge instrument typically used to sequence genomes, transcriptomes or epigenomes. However, it also has a powerful capacity to support the sequence characterization of targeted gene regions, an application that will enable researchers to scale up the use of DNA barcoding to advance understanding of planetary biodiversity.

Funded by a $650,000 grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Sequel II System, developed by Pacific Biosciences of California, Inc. (PacBio), employs Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing to tackle complex problems in genomics. Launched in April 2019, the Sequel II generates 8x more sequence data (50 billion base pairs per run) than its antecedent. By delivering millions of high fidelity sequences, this platform can gather DNA barcode records from 40,000 individual specimens in an 8-hour run. Exploiting this capacity, the CBG will analyze millions of specimens in 2020.

Paul Hebert, Director of the CBG, noted that “The Sequel II represents a key component in the support infrastructure for BIOSCAN, a new seven-year $180 million research program which will advance our understanding of biodiversity by accelerating species discovery, and by revealing species interactions and dynamics. Given our plans to barcode tens of millions of specimens, it’s critical that analytical costs be reduced and the Sequel II makes this possible while also delivering very high fidelity sequences.” BIOSCAN is led by the International Barcode of Life Consortium, a global group of scientists and research organizations united by the shared mission of employing DNA barcodes to enhance understanding of planetary biodiversity.

“One of the most important challenges facing the globe is the decline in biodiversity and finding ways to catalog and protect the planet’s flora and fauna. These difficult challenges require new tools and focused efforts like the important work of the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics and the International Barcode of Life Consortium,” said Dr. Jonas Korlach, Chief Scientific Officer, Pacific Biosciences. “PacBio is very proud that our latest DNA sequencing technology on the Sequel II System has been selected to advance this important work.”


Dr. Paul Hebert
Scientific Director
Tel: 519-824-4120 X 56250

Hannah James
Media Relations
Tel: 519-824-4120 X 52291


SEQUEL II run of 36K amplicons, visualized as a heat map.