image of Oxford Nanopore MinION Sequencing Enables Rapid Whole Genome Assembly of Rickettsia typhi in a Resource-Limited Setting
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


The infrastructure challenges and costs of next-generation sequencing have been largely overcome, for many sequencing applications, by Oxford Nanopore Technologies’ portable MinION sequencer. However, the question remains open whether MinION-based bacterial whole genome sequencing is by itself sufficient for the accurate assessment of phylogenetic and epidemiological relationships between isolates and whether such tasks can be undertaken in resource-limited settings. To investigate this question, we sequenced the genome of an isolate of , an important and neglected cause of fever across much of the tropics and subtropics, for which only three genomic sequences previously existed. We prepared and sequenced libraries on a MinION in Vientiane, Lao PDR, using v9.5 chemistry, and in parallel, we sequenced the same isolate on the Illumina platform in a genomics laboratory in the United Kingdom. The MinION sequence reads yielded a single contiguous assembly, in which the addition of Illumina data revealed 226 base-substitution and 5,856 indel errors. The combined assembly represents the first complete genome sequence of a human isolate collected in the last 50 years and differed from the genomes of existing strains collected over a 90-year time period at very few sites, with no rearrangements. Filtering based on the known error profile of MinION data improved the accuracy of the nanopore-only assembly. However, the frequency of false-positive errors remained greater than true sequence divergence from recorded sequences. Although nanopore-only sequencing cannot yet recover phylogenetic signals in , such an approach may be applicable for more diverse organisms.

[open-access] This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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  • Received : 20 May 2019
  • Accepted : 25 Oct 2019
  • Published online : 09 Dec 2019
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