MinION sequencing from the extreme to the everyday
About Arwyn Edwards
Dr. Arwyn Edwards is Senior Lecturer in Biology and Director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Environmental Microbiology at Aberystwyth University. Portable DNA sequencing using the MinION is enabling Arwyn and other Arctic microbiologists respond to rapid changes in the Arctic, and access unprecedented insights into the diversity and function of extreme microbial ecosystems. This area of research is supported by NERC, Leverhulme, the Welsh Government and the European Union.
The portability and agility of the MinION platform means it can reach places other sequencers can’t. In our hands, this means we are able to deploy MinION DNA sequencing to provide real-time insights into microbial communities using metagenomics and 16S microbiome analyses in extreme environments. It also means that DNA data can be used to enrich public discourse about genomics and microbiomes by sequencing for the media. Here, I will share some of the insights and lessons learned from using MinION for research in off-grid environments and for public outreach. Case studies will include the use of MinION in an off-grid ice camp enduring subzero temperatures and hurricane force blizzards, which showed for the first time the potential for anoxygenic photosynthesis as novel metabolic process on the Greenland Ice Sheet, the live sequencing of soil metagenomes for national radio and the blending of extreme and everyday by sequencing deep subsurface microbiomes and metagenomes in a carbon sequestration experiment in the US directly followed by microbiome analysis for the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures. From these experiences, we are able to offer guidance on ensuring robust outcomes for sequencing in unlikely locations which may help others develop genomics data and discourse in the extreme and the everyday.