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How does MGI sequencing technology work?

Advancements in genetic sequencing technology have led to increased accuracy, speed, and cost-effectiveness, which are all factors that are highly valued by customers. As a result, companies are investing heavily in research and development to stay ahead of the competition.

In this article, we will be focusing on MGI Tech Co., Ltd. (referred to as MGI) and its genetic sequencer technology.

Who is MGI?

MGI is a leading provider of innovative high-throughput genetic sequencing solutions. Their sequencing technology, also known as MGISeq, is a next-generation sequencing (NGS) platform that has gained popularity in the genomics research community. MGISeq is known for its high-throughput capabilities, fast turnaround times, and cost-effectiveness, making it an attractive option for large-scale sequencing projects.

MGI’s technology

The MGISeq platform uses a unique DNA nanoball (DNB) technology (MGI, 2023), which involves the amplification of genomic DNA into nanoballs, followed by sequencing by synthesis (SBS) using fluorescently labeled nucleotides.

In nanoball sequencing, DNA fragments are amplified by rolling circle amplification. The original circular DNA fragment serves as a template for the amplification of each clonal copy of DNA. This results in a spherical "nanoball" of amplified DNA. 

The negatively charged nanoballs are then hybridized to positively charged binding spots on an optimized patterned flow cell. 

The sequencing process then proceeds in a similar fashion to standard SBS sequencing. The nucleotides (A, C, G, or T) are added one at a time to the flow cell, and the incorporated nucleotides are detected by a camera.

Fluorescently labeled nucleotides can be used, however, MGI has developed an innovative variation of SBS called CoolMPS™. Here, the nucleotides are not labeled with fluorescent dyes, but rather with fluorescently labeled antibodies. These are cheaper to produce and provide more accurate sequencing data. 

If you are wondering if it’s possible to convert your already prepared library- using standard library preparation methods, into an MGI-compatible library for sequencing on MGI genetic sequencers, the answer is <<yes>>. This requires, however, an additional step (library conversion) without the need to repeat the entire library preparation process. 

Advantages of MGI sequencing technology

The nanoball sequencing method allows for the parallel sequencing of millions of DNA fragments, each represented by a single nanoball. The use of patterned sequencing primers allows for the efficient use of sequencing reagents, resulting in a high degree of sequence coverage and accuracy.

Compared to other NGS platforms, MGI sequencing technology offers several cost-saving features (MGI, 2023), such as:

  • Higher throughput: can generate large amounts of sequencing data quickly and efficiently, reducing the cost per sample.
  • Scalability: MGI sequencing technology is highly scalable, which means it can process many samples simultaneously (up to 20 billion reads in a single run). This reduces the need for multiple runs and can reduce the overall cost of sequencing.
  • Low reagent cost: MGI sequencing technology uses low-cost reagents, which can significantly reduce the cost per sample.

Novel library preparation kits for MGI’s genetic sequencers

Novel ultra-high-throughput bulk RNA-seq approaches, such as Bulk RNA Barcoding and Sequencing (MERCURIUS™ BRB-seq), are optimized for MGI’s genetic sequencers, thus, do not require the additional library conversion kit (Alpern et al., 2019).

BRB-seq uses 3’ barcoding of mRNA to allow sample multiplexing and lower sequencing depth, to reduce cost and hands-on time, with no loss in data quality compared to conventional methods. When combined with MGIseq, researchers can perform high-throughput RNA-seq studies at a lower cost than ever before.

Alithea Genomics offers two solutions: MERCURIUS™ BRB-seq for purified RNA samples and MERCURIUS™ DRUG-seq v2, RNA extraction-free library prep for drug screening.

To find out more about how MERCURIUS™ BRB-seq library prep kits for MGI please get in touch with us at



  •  Alpern, D., Gardeux, V., Russeil, J., Mangeat, B., Meireles-Filho, A.C., Breysse, R., Hacker, D. and Deplancke, B., 2019. BRB-seq: ultra-affordable high-throughput transcriptomics enabled by bulk RNA barcoding and sequencing. Genome biology, 20(1), pp.1-15.


  • MGI, 2023. Sequencers. Available at: