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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Ecology - Microbiology

Soil Bacterial Diversity Screening Using Single 16S rRNA Gene V Regions Coupled with Multi-Million Read Generating Sequencing Technologies
Published: Monday, August 06, 2012
Author: Sotirios Vasileiadis et al.

by Sotirios Vasileiadis, Edoardo Puglisi, Maria Arena, Fabrizio Cappa, Pier S. Cocconcelli, Marco Trevisan

The novel multi-million read generating sequencing technologies are very promising for resolving the immense soil 16S rRNA gene bacterial diversity. Yet they have a limited maximum sequence length screening ability, restricting studies in screening DNA stretches of single 16S rRNA gene hypervariable (V) regions. The aim of the present study was to assess the effects of properties of four consecutive V regions (V3-6) on commonly applied analytical methodologies in bacterial ecology studies. Using an in silico approach, the performance of each V region was compared with the complete 16S rRNA gene stretch. We assessed related properties of the soil derived bacterial sequence collection of the Ribosomal Database Project (RDP) database and concomitantly performed simulations based on published datasets. Results indicate that overall the most prominent V region for soil bacterial diversity studies was V3, even though it was outperformed in some of the tests. Despite its high performance during most tests, V4 was less conserved along flanking sites, thus reducing its ability for bacterial diversity coverage. V5 performed well in the non-redundant RDP database based analysis. However V5 did not resemble the full-length 16S rRNA gene sequence results as well as V3 and V4 did when the natural sequence frequency and occurrence approximation was considered in the virtual experiment. Although, the highly conserved flanking sequence regions of V6 provide the ability to amplify partial 16S rRNA gene sequences from very diverse owners, it was demonstrated that V6 was the least informative compared to the rest examined V regions. Our results indicate that environment specific database exploration and theoretical assessment of the experimental approach are strongly suggested in 16S rRNA gene based bacterial diversity studies.
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