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BGI Releases 1st Panoramic Atlases of Life

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International scientists led by China’s BGI•Research released the world’s first panoramic spatial atlases of life on May 4, examining the cellular dynamics of organisms at different developmental stages and providing potentially significant new information for disease treatment, development and aging, and an improved understanding of biological evolution.

In a series of studies published in Cell Press journals, members of the Spatio-Temporal Omics Consortium (STOC), an international scientific consortium, used the BGI-developed spatially resolved transcriptomics technology Stereo-seq to produce spatio-temporal cellular maps of mice, Drosophila, zebrafish and the Arabidopsis (thale cress) plant.

The papers demonstrate how Stereo-seq has achieved a major breakthrough in spatial resolution and panoramic field of view, enabling analysis of the distribution and placement of molecules and cells in situ, and over time.

Over 80 scientists from leading universities in 16 countries have so far collaborated as part of STOC focusing on using spatially resolved, cellular resolution omics technologies to map and understand life.

Spatial transcriptomics technology resolves previous issues identifying characteristics of single cells within a biological tissue. It builds on the achievements of single-cell sequencing, elevating it to the next level by enabling scientists to track a cell’s precise location and how it interacts with neighbouring cells.

Scientists used Stereo-seq to examine the early embryonic development of mice, particularly from 9.5 to 16.5 days, during which embryonic development is occurring at a fast rate. Stereo-seq generated the Mouse Organogenesis Spatiotemporal Transcriptomic Atlas (MOSTA), which maps with single-cell resolution and high sensitivity, the kinetics and directionality of transcriptional variation during mouse organogenesis.

“Stereo-seq is a transformational breakthrough in spatial transcriptomics technology and is the most powerful technology in this field of life sciences today,” said Dr. Liu Longqi of BGI•Research, one of the papers’ corresponding authors. “We now have the technology to map a panoramic atlas of every cell in an organism, according to their individual biomolecular profiles, in space and over time.”

“The successful application of our Stereo-seq technology for development has significant implications for the future of genomic research on human diseases,” said co-corresponding author Dr. Xu Xun, director of BGI•Research. “Demonstrating that this technology can pinpoint certain cells that indicate future disease will be critical for diagnostics and therapeutics for a number of conditions.”

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Xiaolin Chen
E-mail: media@genomics.cn

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