BACKGROUND: Facilities that provide a service for DNA sequencing typically support large numbers of users and experiment types. The cost of services is often reduced by the use of liquid handling robots but the efficiency of such facilities is hampered because the software for such robots does not usually integrate well with the systems that run the sequencing machines. Accordingly, there is a need for software systems capable of integrating different robotic systems and managing sample information for DNA sequencing services. In this paper, we describe an extension to the Protein Information Management System (PIMS) that is designed for DNA sequencing facilities. The new version of PIMS has a user-friendly web interface and integrates all aspects of the sequencing process, including sample submission, handling and tracking, together with capture and management of the data.
RESULTS: The PIMS sequencing extension has been in production since July 2009 at the University of Leeds DNA Sequencing Facility. It has completely replaced manual data handling and simplified the tasks of data management and user communication. Samples from 45 groups have been processed with an average throughput of 10000 samples per month. The current version of the PIMS sequencing extension works with Applied Biosystems 3130XL 96-well plate sequencer and MWG 4204 or Aviso Theonyx liquid handling robots, but is readily adaptable for use with other combinations of robots.
CONCLUSIONS: PIMS has been extended to provide a user-friendly and integrated data management solution for DNA sequencing facilities that is accessed through a normal web browser and allows simultaneous access by multiple users as well as facility managers. The system integrates sequencing and liquid handling robots, manages the data flow, and provides remote access to the sequencing results.
The article is published online in the journal BMC Research and is free to access.