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The Best Polymerases of 2008

The Best Polymerases of 2008


The awards season is upon us once again. Overpaid, under-worked and over-ego’d celebrities get together to slap each other’s backs and tell each other how great they are.

But little do they know where the real party in town is. The 2008 Thermostable Polymerase Awards (the THEPA’s) are underway and you have a front row seat.

Here are the winners:

Highest fidelity

The highest fidelity class is the most hotly contested THEPA category and competition is normally tough. But this year a new kid on the block, Finnzymes’ Phusion Polymerase, with it’s tiny error rate of 2.28×10(-5), blew the competition away and deservedly scooped the award.

Highest processivity

Phusion also came out tops in the highest processivity category. With 10x greater processivity than Pfu and 2x greater than Taq it certainly merits it. In an emotional acceptance speech for it’s second award, Phusion dedicated the award to it’s fused DNA binding domain.

Fastest polymerase

Phusion was also nominated in the fastest extension rate category, and at a blistering 15 seconds/kilobase few could argue. However KAPA2G from Kappa Biosystems, with it’s astounding rate of 1 second per kilobase was the clear winner. Critics argued that KAPA2G’s lack of proof reading gave it an unfair advantage over the meticulous Phusion and arguments raged into the night.

Fastest hotstart

Sometimes you just want your hotstart to be fast, and nominees in this category try to deliver. The winner was Truestart from Fermentas, a Taq polymerase that requires only 1 min at 94C to activate.

Best for GC rich/problematic templates

“Heroic” was how the academy described Invitrogen’s Accuprime in their recommendation for it’s award in the “best for GC rich/problematic templates” category. When you have a problematic or GC rich template, and no other polymerase can deliver, Accuprime can.

Best for low copy templates

Sipping champagne and relaxing as the nominations for the “best for low copy templates” category were read out, Bioline’s Sahara looked positively shocked when it was announced as the winner. Apparently, it thought it’s recent protocol change (it’s hot start time was increased from 7 to 10 minutes) would count against it, but that was not the case. The applause in the room as it accepted the award will be echoed by all who work with low copy templates.

Cheapest polymerase

For routine applications, you want your polymerase cheap (but not dirty). According to our friends at Biocompare, the cheapest thermostable DNA polymerase on the market is GenScript Corporation’s Taq polymerase coming in at a measly 6 US cents per unit, making it a clear winner in this category.

Best for mutagenesis

Stratagene’s Mutazyme II won this class due to it’s unique ability to create balanced mutational bias. It does this using a combination of Mutazyme I, a reduced fidelity polymerase and a novel Taq polymerase mutant. Mutazyme’s II agent has negotiated a lucrative deal that means it is only available as part of the Genemorph II kit.

Best for sequencing

Sequitherm from Epicentre Biotechnologies takes the award here. Part of the Sequitherm Cycle Sequencing kit, it displays enhanced abilities to sequence tough GC or secondary structure templates due to it’s high reaction temperature optimum.

Lifetime Achievement

And finally, Taq Polymerase, the grand old daddy of thermostable polymerases was given a lifetime achievement award for it’s services to PCR.

Plucked from the obscurity of Yellowstone Park, where it had evolved over millions of years, Taq teamed up with Kary Mullis to become to be an integral player in perhaps one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century.

Although Taq is now surrounded by younger, faster, proof-reading variants, it can still hold it’s own and remains central to many PCR applications. Despite the ravages of time, it does not look like retiring any time soon and still looks as good as it did back in Yellowstone.

Image Credit:


  1. milkoker on October 11, 2012 at 10:26 am


    I’d like to suggest that in your “Best Taq Polymerase Awards” you include a category of best enzyme overcoming PCR inhibition. The novel OmniTaq and OmniKlentaq DNA polymerases, developed by DNA Polymerase Technology, Inc., are the first genetically engineered mutants of Taq, rendering the enzyme highly resistant to a variety of major PCR inhibitors, found in clinical, environmental and forensic samples. These unique enzymes allow direct DNA amplification from whole blood or other crude samples without any purification steps. These enzymes are also superior to the competitor Blood PCR Kit from Kappa Biosystems, which can not handle heparin-treated blood, while the “Omni-Mutants” work equally well with all typical anticoagulants, EDTA, heparin and Citrate. One more note: The New England Biolabs enzyme HemoKlentaq is identical to, and is a licensed version of the OmniKlentaq mutant enzyme.

    A publication on these enzyme can be found at:



    Milko Kermekchiev,PhD
    Chief Scientist
    DNA Polymerase Technology

  2. IgnacioSTM on March 29, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Excellent article!!
    Please help me, i need information about market of the dna polymerases for my work in the university
    thanks for all..

  3. Nick on November 24, 2009 at 11:35 am

    Hi Pete,

    Well spotted… good job this is not my job application! Just for the record, the link to the article Pete is referring to is:

    Hi Ranga,

    This list was put together as a fun way of comparing some polymerases. The enzymes were not tested for the purposes of this article but instead the decisions were based on my personal experiences/opinions and, in some cases, the literature supplied by the manufacturers.


  4. Pete on November 24, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Okay, so the system won’t let me post links, but I was making a reference to Travis’s post named “Measure Twice, Cut Once”.

  5. Pete on November 24, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Great article!

    However, you might take some advice from this post and copyedit! There are 11 incorrect usages of “it’s”!!! “This is 100% inexcusable‚Ķ” :p

  6. Ranga on November 8, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    While the list is pretty informative, can I know how these enzymes were tested? What were the parameters that enabled to come to your decisions?

  7. Nick on February 26, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Hi David

    Thanks for you input. The academy was not aware of this potential problem with Pfusion, but will keep an eye out for in in future.

    KOD is indeed a good polymerase, and it definitely worth consideration.

  8. David J-F P. G. on February 26, 2008 at 11:13 am

    I’m very surprised about this results.
    We have tested Fusion on some importants projects and finally decided to stop using fusion.

    Did you know that Fusion polymerase activity is getting down with time storage and it’s exonuclease activity stay the same.
    This unbalanced activities can bring you some big broblems on some specific projects… As we encounted.

    I’m surprised that the KOD from Novagen didn’t get anything. I’ve try lots of DNA polymerases on differents projects as molecular biology engineer and now I prefer using KOD for it’s reliability and good amplification results on my own tests.

    Just surprised to read these results.

    So, thanks for this ranking…
    Best regards.

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