How do I choose the right DNA sequencing service provider?
This is a very difficult question to answer as everyone's needs are different, however, there are number of critical features to consider when selecting a DNA sequencing service, the most important are: the total cost of the service, the quality of sequence data, and the sample turn around times.
DNA Sequencing Cost
The cost of using a sequencing service can often be difficult to determine as many service providers do not make their prices public. To find the best price we recommend that you contact at least five of different service providers (that also meet your other needs) for price quotes as sequencing costs vary quite significantly depending on the precise services required. We also recommend looking at our reviews of DNA sequencing services as we have included pricing details on each center where available.
If you are planning on performing a large number of sequencing reactions over a period of time it is worth making this clear to the service provider as most will negotiate large discounts for heavy users. One tip for saving money is to consider using university core facilities. Many university sequencing core facilities will run external and commercial samples at a very low cost as they are often only charging for their reagents and labor. It is also worth remembering that the cheapest facility for low volumes may not be the cheapest for high volumes.
DNA Sequence Quality
Sequence quality is most heavily influenced by the quality of the DNA template and the DNA sequencing instrument used. Of the commonly used DNA sequencers the ABI 3500, 3730, 3130, 3100 and 3500 DNA sequencer series provides the best quality reads, followed by the ABI 3700, the Amersham MegaBACE 1000 and 4000, and finally the ABI 377. Very few commercial sequencing centers use ABI 377 instruments these days, but many university core facilities are still using ABI 3700, so it is worth considering the sequencer model when choosing a sequencing service.
If you require the best quality then you should consider using a facility or company that uses PeakTrace to process their traces. These facilities care about sequencing quality and routinely achieve high quality read lengths in excess of 1000 bases. You can find a list of this facilites on the reviews of DNA Sequencing service providers page.
DNA Sequencing Turn Around Time
Turn around time is most influenced by the distance that you have to ship your samples. In general, it is advisable to choose a sequencing service provider close to your laboratory rather than one on the other side of the world. However, if cost is a critical factor you should contact more distant facilities as they are often much cheaper. It is also worth remembering for large sequencing projects, such as whole genome projects, shipping time is likely to be a relatively minor contribution to the overall project time.
Finally, it is worth noting that the DNA template and primer requirements varies greatly from one sequencing service center to another. Keep this in mind when preparing your DNA because you may find that you don't have enough template to use certain sequencing facilities.
For more information of choosing the best DNA sequencing services for your particular research needs please visit our DNA sequencing services reviews. To discuss or ask questions about this guide please visit the Nucleics DNA sequencing forum.