“The human genome was sequenced, and in the process of moving that forward the technology that was developed was incredible. And because of their efforts in the human genome, that technology is available to folks like us.”
Northern Arizona University’s Paul Keim at the ScienceWriters2011 conference. The ability to compare genomes is a powerful tool for identifying the origins of a natural disease outbreak or bioterrorism. Keim’s team examined the anthrax mailed to victims in the 2001 attacks and determined that it did not come from Iraq.
“The govt really wanted to figure out what was going on there. Half a million dollars to sequence a genome, no problem, go do it. Go do it 20 times if you want. And so we had access to this technology. And so we were able to push the limits of what could be done in this area of molecular identification of pathogens at a very early stage. Ten years ago. Now we’re doing it on everything. Because the cost of this technology has plunged. We can sequence a genome of a bacterium for somewhere between $10 and $100.”
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]