Ion Torrent: Proton / PGM sequencing

Unlike Illumina and 454, Ion torrent and Ion proton sequencing do not make use of optical signals. Instead, they exploit the fact that addition of a dNTP to a DNA polymer releases an H+ ion.

As in other kinds of NGS, the input DNA or RNA is fragmented, this time ~200bp. Adaptors are added and one molecule is placed onto a bead. The molecules are amplified on the bead by emulsion PCR. Each bead is placed into a single well of a slide.

Like 454, the slide is flooded with a single species of dNTP, along with buffers and polymerase, one NTP at a time. The pH is detected is each of the wells, as each H+ ion released will decrease the pH. The changes in pH allow us to determine if that base, and how many thereof, was added to the sequence read.


The dNTPs are washed away, and the process is repeated cycling through the different dNTP species.

The pH change, if any, is used to determine how many bases (if any) were added with each cycle.