Sequencing by Synthesis (SBS) Technology

Illumina's sequencing technology, sequencing by synthesis (SBS), is the most successful and widely adopted NGS (next-generation sequencing) technology worldwide. Illumina's sequencing instruments and reagents support massively parallel sequencing using a proprietary method that detects single bases as they are incorporated into growing DNA strands.

SBS Chemistry

A fluorescently labeled reversible terminator is imaged as each dNTP is added, and then cleaved to allow incorporation of the next base. Since all four reversible terminator-bound dNTPs are present during each sequencing cycle, natural competition minimizes incorporation bias.

The end result is true base-by-base sequencing that enables the industry's most accurate data for a broad range of applications.

Applications of SBS Technology

A wide array of sample preparation methods enable diverse sequencing applications, including: whole-genome sequencing, de novo sequencing, candidate region targeted resequencing, DNA sequencing, RNA sequencing (for applications such as transcriptome and small RNA analysis), methylation analysis, and protein-nucleic acid interaction analysis (ChIP-Seq).

Further Advantages of SBS Technology

Illumina's sequencing by synthesis technology supports both single read and paired-end libraries. SBS technology is the only platform that offers a short-insert paired-end capability for high-resolution genome sequencing, as well as long-insert paired-end reads using the same robust chemistry for efficient sequence assembly, de novo sequencing, large-scale structural variation detection, and more. The combination of short inserts and longer reads increases the ability to fully characterize any genome.

Sequencing Machines

  HiSeq 2500
Production Power
  NextSeq 500
Flexible Power

Related Links

Sequencing Technology Video

See SBS technology in action.

Desktop Sequencing Machine


Bring genome, exome, and transcriptome sequencing to your desktop with the powerful, flexible NextSeq 500 System.
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Latest Evolution of SBS

Find out about the latest evolution of SBS technology, utilized on the NextSeq 500 System.
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Illumina Sequencing Introduction

Read an in-depth introduction to Illumina sequencing technology.

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First $1000 Genome

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Publication Reviews