Drosophila Sequenced--Now the Tricky Part

Celera Genomics announced Sept. 9 that the Rockville, Md., company had sequenced the 1.8 billion base pairs that make up the Drosophila melanogaster genome. Now comes the tricky part--putting them together to form an accurate, contiguous fruit fly genome. "The sequence data is good," Paul Gilman, a Celera vice president, claims. "The question is, 'How good is our assembly?'" That's a question that critics of the company's "whole genome shotgun" sequencing approach--blasting the entire genome in

Paul Smaglik
Sep 26, 1999

Celera Genomics announced Sept. 9 that the Rockville, Md., company had sequenced the 1.8 billion base pairs that make up the Drosophila melanogaster genome. Now comes the tricky part--putting them together to form an accurate, contiguous fruit fly genome. "The sequence data is good," Paul Gilman, a Celera vice president, claims. "The question is, 'How good is our assembly?'" That's a question that critics of the company's "whole genome shotgun" sequencing approach--blasting the entire genome into bits, then reassembling it, as opposed to the conventional "clone-by-clone" approach--have posed since the company announced its private sequencing attempts last summer.1

A complete and accurate Drosophila genome may mean different things to different people. "The successful assembly of the fly genome will validate the effectiveness of Celera's whole genome shotgun approach in deciphering complex genomes," J. Craig Venter, Celera's president and chief scientific officer, noted in a written statement. Francis...