Automatic DNA sequencing: what's the best?

N.K.Sankaran Nandu at
Thu Jan 4 11:34:34 EST 1996

When you are looking to buy the ABI 310 instrument, 
these are the key features/disadvantages you need to be aware of

Though the instrument does not involve pouring a gel, ABI does not tell you
that the cost of the cappilary is $80.00 for 100 reactions. This amounts to $ 1.00
per sample.  This is very significant considering the high cost of each sequencing
reaction/sample being approx $7.00. The cleanup costs for each reaction, 
needs the use of princeton saperation column which costs around $2-3.00/reaction
(not sure about this price exactly)

Each sequencing run barely produces 300 bases.  The first 75 bases are shot
and contains all the 'N' s and the last 50 bases are not 'confident' base calls.
ABI claims 400-500 bases per sample. Taking into account all this,  a 300 base run
does not call for a automated sequencer.

The thru' put is 10 samples in 24 hours. 
The minute you buy an automated sequencer. Your workload will tend to increase.
The 310 fairs poorly in this account.

This is the key thing the ABI rep won't tell you.  The life of the Argon laser is
5000 hours.  If the instrument is continously run for 200 days, which you have to
given the low throughput -- you have to replace the argon laser very soon.
This costs $5000.00.

Last but not the least, ABI charges a whopping amount for the service contract.
When you run any instrument for 24 hours, you better be enrolled in their service
contract. It costs around $10,000.00 every year.

Another key issue is also their lousy after sales service. 
There are other instruments which are in fact better than ABI 310.
You may want to give the pharmacia and the LI-COR 4000L a chance.
Last I heard the LI-COR has lowered the price and their product is
very good. 

Good luck

Nandakumar Sankaran 


Nandakumar Sankaran

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