Singapore scientists develop system to accurately reconstruct DNA

PHOTO: Singapore scientists develop system to accurately reconstruct DNA

SINGAPORE - Researchers at the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) have developed a first-of-its-kind computational tool that accurately reconstructs DNA sequences.

The genomic study of life relies on a process called genome assembly, the piecing together of DNA sequences using computational tools.

Due to the sheer scale of the challenge, existing approaches largely consist of experience-based methods that often result in incorrect reconstructions of the genome.

The new computational system, called Opera, is an algorithmic solution for genome assembly that provides a quality guarantee and scales to large data sets, and has been used by GIS to successfully assemble large genome sequences of both plants and animals.

"Genetic studies of organisms of interest for human health - such as those causing infectious diseases - agriculture, animal husbandry and other areas of the bio-economy, such as biofuels, are driven by the availability of draft genome sequences, said head researcher Dr Nagarajan, Assistant Director of Computational and Mathematical Biology at GIS.

The accurate assembly of a genome sequence thus serves as a resource to the research community and opens the way to further biological investigations, said GIS.

There is a need for constantly improving assembly tools to generate the most complete and accurate draft genomes to avoid research dead-ends and tedious and time-consuming corrections caused by mis-constructions of genome sequences.

Opera is the best stand-alone genome scaffolder currently available in the community, said Mihai Pop, Associate Prof, Department of Computer Science; and Interim Director, Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at the University of Maryland.

Opera is now freely available at