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Rethinking microbial diversity analysis in the high throughput sequencing era

By Leandro N. Lemos, Roberta R. Fulthorpe, Eric W. Triplett and Luiz F.W. Roesch

Abstract

AbstractThe analysis of amplified and sequenced 16S rRNA genes has become the most important single approach for microbial diversity studies. The new sequencing technologies allow for sequencing thousands of reads in a single run and a cost-effective option is split into a single run across many samples. However for this type of investigation the key question that needs to be answered is how many samples can be sequenced without biasing the results due to lack of sequence representativeness? In this work we demonstrated that the level of sequencing effort used for analyzing soil microbial communities biases the results and determines the most effective type of analysis for small and large datasets. Many simulations were performed with four independent pyrosequencing-generated 16S rRNA gene libraries from different environments. The analysis performed here illustrates the lack of resolution of OTU-based approaches for datasets with low sequence coverage. This analysis should be performed with at least 90% of sequence coverage. Diversity index values increase with sample size making normalization of the number of sequences in all samples crucial. An important finding of this study was the advantage of phylogenetic approaches for examining microbial communities with low sequence coverage. However, if the environments being compared were closely related, a deeper sequencing would be necessary to detect the variation in the microbial composition

Publisher: Elsevier B.V.
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.mimet.2011.03.014
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