This is going to be a short post because I have to go to bed in preparation for my 8AM class tomorrow(wheeee), but I'm taking this bioinformatics course under the stat department, where we learn how the immense amount of data has been organized to be study-able.
I found this description of shotgun sequencing, which is so concise and easy to understand:
Before any analysis of a DNa sequence can take place it is first necessary to determine the actual sequence itself, at least as accurately as is reasonably possible. Unfortunately, technical considerations make it impossible to sequence very long pieces of DNA all at once. Instead, many overlapping small pieces are sequenced, each on the order of the 500 bases (nucleotides). After this is done the problem arises of assembling these fragments into one long "contig". One difficulty is that the locations of the fragments within the genome and with respect to each other are not generally known. However, if enough fragments are sequenced so that there will be many overlaps between them, the fragments can be matched up and assembled. This method is called "shotgun sequencing.
- Statistical Methods in Bioinformatics by Ewens and Grant
How easy and simple is this description? Non-biology people are sure to be able to pick it up and understand this explanation. I didn't fully understand the concept of shotgun sequencing from textbooks until recently. This is how I want to be able to present science to others.