In 1996, researchers from major genome sequencing centers around the world convened on the island of Bermuda and defined a finished genome as a gapless sequence with a nucleotide error rate of one or less in 10,000 bases. This effectively set the quality target for the human genome effort and was quickly applied to other genome projects. If a genome sequence didn’t meet this stringent criterion, it was simply considered a “draft.”
More than a decade later, researchers are finding that with the advent of the latest sequencing technologies the terms “draft” and “finished” are no longer sufficient to describe the varying levels of genome sequence quality being produced. The quality issue is of particular concern for any researcher who wants to use the sequence, in order to know its integrity and reliability. This is of even greater concern for reference genome sequences, such as those genome projects conducted in support of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) missions of bioenergy and environmental clean-up, because they provide the foundational knowledge of the gene content and how these organisms interact with the environment.
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