Oxford Nanopore sequencing is a new type of sequencing technology that operates very differently from traditional Illumina sequencing. While Illumina sequencing uses a sequencing by synthesis method to read sequences, Oxford Nanopore chips possess thousands of protein nanopores with a processive DNA unwinding enzyme sitting at the entrance of the pore. This enzyme passes the DNA through the nanopore, passing through an ionic current near the aperture of the nanopore. Each of the different bases causes a distinctive disruption in the current that can measured, letting us identify which base is passing through the membrane.
There are two major advantages to using nanopore sequencing: decreased turnaround time and increased read length. Nanopore sequencing can be done in real-time, making it very useful for researchers who need results immediately, such as pathologists who need to identify a disease-causing pathogen. Additionally, nanopore sequencing makes it possible to sequence extremely long segments of DNA, especially compared to Illumina sequencing. Because Illumina sequencing can only result in read lengths of up to 300 bp, de novo genome assembly is often a challenge and is virtually impossible in some areas of the genome (such as highly repetitive areas). On the other hand, Oxford Nanopore sequencing can result in read lengths of up to a few hundred thousand base pairs. Assembly quality can be greatly improved by using a combination of nanopore and Illumina sequencing technologies.
The MinION: a pocket sized, portable device that can sequence 10 - 20 Gb in real-time.
The GridION: can run and analyze 5 MinION flow cells; offers real-time, long-read, high-fidelity DNA and RNA sequencing of up to 100 Gb.
The PromethION: runs the same type of sequencing as the MinION and GridION but at a much larger scale, with a potential to yield up to 12 Tb in 48 hours for the whole device.
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