Background: Next generation sequencing (NGS) is increasingly being used in clinical microbiology. Like every new technology adopted in microbiology, the integration of NGS into clinical and routine workflows must be carefully managed.
Aim: To review the practical aspects of implementing bacterial whole genome sequencing (WGS) in routine diagnostic laboratories.
Sources: Review of the literature and expert opinion.
Content: In this review, we discuss when and how to integrate whole genome sequencing (WGS) in the routine workflow of the clinical laboratory. In addition, as the microbiology laboratories have to adhere to various national and international regulations and criteria for their accreditation, we deliberate on quality control issues for using WGS in microbiology, including the importance of proficiency testing. Furthermore, the current and future place of this technology in the diagnostic hierarchy of microbiology is described as well as the necessity of maintaining backwards compatibility with already established methods. Finally, we speculate on the question of whether WGS can entirely replace routine microbiology in the future and the tension between the fact that most sequencers are designed to process multiple samples in parallel whereas for optimal diagnosis a one-by-one processing of the samples is preferred. Special reference is made to the cost and turnaround time of WGS in diagnostic laboratories.
Implications: Further development is required to improve the workflow for WGS, in particular to shorten the turnaround time, reduce costs, and streamline downstream data analyses. Only when these processes reach maturity will reliance on WGS for routine patient management and infection control management become feasible, enabling the transformation of clinical microbiology into a genome-based and personalized diagnostic field.
Keywords: Antimicrobial resistance; Bacterial typing; Clinical microbiology; Diagnostic stewardship; Molecular diagnostics; Next generation sequencing; Quality control; Whole genome sequencing.
Copyright © 2017 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.