Most researchers would agree that manually performing a hundred or so plasmid preps after a low-efficiency cloning stifles the spirit of exploration that attracted them to science. Minipreps don't end with merely being tedious, repetitive, and time consuming--frequent exposure to hazardous chemicals adds to the misery. However, minipreps are a necessary evil in research, and the number of sequencing templates to prepare never seems to dwindle. For example, a small lab running four sequencing gels a day with a 36-well comb can accommodate 144 samples a day; a larger operation running just one 96-capillary machine around the clock can analyze 1,000 templates daily. Preparing templates to meet this demand is challenging.

DNA purifications are not the only tedious and repetitive tasks associated with today's genomic world. The small lab in the above example, at 450 bases per read, will generate about 65 kb of raw sequencing data per day; the...

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