Optical mapping (OM) has been used in microbiology for the past 20 years, initially as a technique to facilitate DNA sequence-based studies; however, with decreases in DNA sequencing costs and increases in sequence output from automated sequencing platforms, OM has grown into an important auxiliary tool for genome assembly and comparison. Currently, there are a number of new and exciting applications for OM in the field of microbiology, including investigation of disease outbreaks, identification of specific genes of clinical and/or epidemiological relevance, and the possibility of single-cell analysis when combined with cell-sorting approaches. In addition, designing lab-on-a-chip systems based on OM is now feasible and will allow the integrated and automated microbiological analysis of biological fluids. Here, we review the basic technology of OM, detail the current state of the art of the field, and look ahead to possible future developments in OM technology for microbiological applications. © 2017 Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc.
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