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A. The DNA Sequencing of Infectious Bacteria

Narrator: This is Science Today. The U.S. Department of Energy has enlisted the services of the California-based Joint Genome Institute to sequence the entire genomes of a variety of infectious bacteria. Susan Lucas oversees the production sequencing of seventeen different pathogens.

Lucas: What's important about sequencing the entire genomes is that if you do several, you can actually compare each genome to figure out why some genomes are more lethal than other genomes. And right now, that's of importance to scientists to help protect the U.S. from bio-threat.

Narrator: While there are no actual pathogens on site, Lucas says twenty-one state-of-the-art sequencing machines are working round-the-clock, six days a week to sequence and assemble the fragmentary DNA of infectious bacteria.

Lucas: Right now this facility can output anywhere from 45 to 50 million base pairs a day - totaling to one billion base pairs a month, which is a third of the human genome.

Narrator: The facility is staffed by researchers from three national laboratories, which are managed by the University of California. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.