Last week, I was invited to give a talk at Stony Brook University’s Ecology and Evolution department about genomics (very long time readers will know that I spent four years at Stony Brook as a post-doc and research professor). The talk was well received (thank you for asking) in part, I think, because of the way I began the talk.
I noted that, when I was at Stony Brook, a colleague and I spent roughly two years sequencing 10 genes from over 120 E. coli strains–and we were rightfully proud of what we had accomplished. At the time (2001-2002), this was one of the largest bacterial population genetics datasets available.
To put how much sequencing technology has improved since then, in six to twelve months, we will be able to sequence over 120 E. coli genomes, each of which contains ~4,500 genes, for the same cost (both costs factor in labor, paying off the machine purchases, and so on). And it would take only one month to do the sequencing on one machine.
This is why I claim that, in five years, if a population biology project doesn’t have a genomics component (whether yours or someone else’s), it won’t be very successful.
Welcome to the era of population genomics. Of course, now we have to figure out how to analyze the data…