The sequence of sequencers: The history of sequencing DNA

Genomics. 2016 Jan;107(1):1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ygeno.2015.11.003. Epub 2015 Nov 10.


Determining the order of nucleic acid residues in biological samples is an integral component of a wide variety of research applications. Over the last fifty years large numbers of researchers have applied themselves to the production of techniques and technologies to facilitate this feat, sequencing DNA and RNA molecules. This time-scale has witnessed tremendous changes, moving from sequencing short oligonucleotides to millions of bases, from struggling towards the deduction of the coding sequence of a single gene to rapid and widely available whole genome sequencing. This article traverses those years, iterating through the different generations of sequencing technology, highlighting some of the key discoveries, researchers, and sequences along the way.

Keywords: DNA; History; RNA; Sequencer; Sequencing.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing / history
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing / methods*
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Nanotechnology / methods
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / history*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / methods