Next-generation sequencing: The future of molecular genetics in poultry production and food safety
The era of molecular biology and automation of the Sanger chain-terminator sequencing method has led to discovery and advances in diagnostics and biotechnology. The Sanger methodology dominated research for over 2 decades, leading to significant accomplishments and technological improvements in DNA sequencing. Next-generation high-throughput sequencing (HT-NGS) technologies were developed subsequently to overcome the limitations of this first generation technology that include higher speed, less labor, and lowered cost. Various platforms developed include sequencing-by-synthesis 454 Life Sciences, Illumina (Solexa) sequencing, SOLiD sequencing (among others), and the Ion Torrent semiconductor sequencing technologies that use different detection principles. As technology advances, progress made toward third generation sequencing technologies are being reported, which include Nanopore Sequencing and real-time monitoring of PCR activity through fluorescent resonant energy transfer. The advantages of these technologies include scalability, simplicity, with increasing DNA polymerase performance and yields, being less error prone, and even more economically feasible with the eventual goal of obtaining real-time results. These technologies can be directly applied to improve poultry production and enhance food safety. For example, sequence-based (determination of the gut microbial community, genes for metabolic pathways, or presence of plasmids) and function-based (screening for function such as antibiotic resistance, or vitamin production) metagenomic analysis can be carried out. Gut microbialflora/communities of poultry can be sequenced to determine the changes that affect health and disease along with efficacy of methods to control pathogenic growth. Thus, the purpose of this review is to provide an overview of the principles of these current technologies and their potential application to improve poultry production and food safety as well as public health.