On a day like any other in late 2016, Mr. Ivan Schlembach logged in to his myGATC account and downloaded his Sanger sequencing results from his newest watchbox, the folder where Sanger data from GATC Biotech is delivered. The watchbox looked like any other with all the usual Sanger sequencing results, but this was no ordinary watchbox. Mr. Schlembach was in for a big surprise. He had just accessed the company’s 2,000,000th watchbox!
To mark the occasion, the lucky PhD student in the lab of Dr. Rosenbaum at the Institute of Applied Microbiology at RWTH Aachen University received a tour of GATC Biotech’s Sanger sequencing facilities, as well as a customer appreciation gift this February.
To join the lab tour, Mr. Schlembach had to tear himself away from his important work at the Institute. There, he is developing a consolidated bioprocess for direct platform chemical production from cellulose using mixed culture fermentation. He hopes that by obtaining new synthetic biofuels, he could make a real positive impact by counteracting the challenges associated with fossil fuel use.
Sanger sequencing is essential for Mr. Schlembach’s work. He uses the results on a monthly basis for validation of cloned gene fragments, checking of qPCR targets and verification of the identity of his fungal strains, including Aspergillus terreus and Trichoderma reesei. Altogether, he and his labmates go through nearly 600 Sanger sequencing barcodes per year.
Now that he has pocketed the coveted two millionth watchbox, Mr. Schlembach can look forward to many more Sanger sequencing reactions that propel him forward to the successful completion of his PhD. During this time, he would love to see next-generation sequencing (NGS) becoming faster, cheaper and comparable to Sanger sequencing. With affordable NGS packages starting at 5 million base pairs already available, it could be that his hopes come true before the three millionth watchbox is delivered.