Taxonomy of anaerobic digestion microbiome reveals biases associated with the applied high throughput sequencing strategies

Stefano Campanaro, Laura Treu*, Panagiotis Kougias, Xinyu Zhu, Irini Angelidaki

*Corresponding author for this work

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In the past few years, many studies investigated the anaerobic digestion microbiome by means of 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing. Results obtained from these studies were compared to each other without taking into consideration the followed procedure for amplicons preparation and data analysis. This negligence was mainly due to the lack of knowledge regarding the biases influencing specific steps of the microbiome investigation process. In the present study, the main technical aspects of the 16S rRNA analysis were checked giving special attention to the approach used for high throughput sequencing. More specifically, the microbial compositions of three laboratory scale biogas reactors were analyzed before and after addition of sodium oleate by sequencing the microbiome with three different approaches: 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing, shotgun DNA and shotgun RNA. This comparative analysis revealed that, in amplicon sequencing, abundance of some taxa (Euryarchaeota and Spirochaetes) was biased by the inefficiency of universal primers to hybridize all the templates. Reliability of the results obtained was also influenced by the number of hypervariable regions under investigation. Finally, amplicon sequencing and shotgun DNA underestimated the Methanoculleus genus, probably due to the low 16S rRNA gene copy number encoded in this taxon.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1926
JournalScientific Reports
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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