16S rRNA gene-based profiling of the human infant gut microbiota is strongly influenced by sample processing and PCR primer choice

Alan W. Walker, Jennifer C. Martin, Paul Scott, Julian Parkhill, Harry J. Flint, Karen P. Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Background
Characterisation of the bacterial composition of the gut microbiota is increasingly carried out with a view to establish the role of different bacterial species in causation or prevention of disease. It is thus essential that the methods used to determine the microbial composition are robust. Here, several widely used molecular techniques were compared to establish the optimal methods to assess the bacterial composition in faecal samples from babies, before weaning.

Results
The bacterial community profile detected in the faeces of infants is highly dependent on the methodology used. Bifidobacteria were the most abundant bacteria detected at 6 weeks in faeces from two initially breast-fed babies using fluorescent in situ hybridisation (FISH), in agreement with data from previous culture-based studies. Using the 16S rRNA gene sequencing approach, however, we found that the detection of bifidobacteria in particular crucially depended on the optimisation of the DNA extraction method, and the choice of primers used to amplify the V1–V3 regions of 16S rRNA genes prior to subsequent sequence analysis. Bifidobacteria were only well represented among amplified 16S rRNA gene sequences when mechanical disruption (bead-beating) procedures for DNA extraction were employed together with optimised “universal” PCR primers. These primers incorporate degenerate bases at positions where mismatches to bifidobacteria and other bacterial taxa occur. The use of a DNA extraction kit with no bead-beating step resulted in a complete absence of bifidobacteria in the sequence data, even when using the optimised primers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number26
JournalMicrobiome
Volume3
Early online date22 Jun 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2015

Fingerprint

Bifidobacterium
rRNA Genes
Polymerase Chain Reaction
Feces
DNA
Weaning
Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization
Causality
Sequence Analysis
Breast
Gastrointestinal Microbiome
Bacteria

Keywords

  • 16S rRNA gene sequencing
  • bifidobacteria
  • infant
  • intestinal microbiota
  • FISH

Cite this

16S rRNA gene-based profiling of the human infant gut microbiota is strongly influenced by sample processing and PCR primer choice. / Walker, Alan W.; Martin, Jennifer C.; Scott, Paul; Parkhill, Julian; Flint, Harry J.; Scott, Karen P.

In: Microbiome, Vol. 3, 26, 22.06.2015.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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abstract = "BackgroundCharacterisation of the bacterial composition of the gut microbiota is increasingly carried out with a view to establish the role of different bacterial species in causation or prevention of disease. It is thus essential that the methods used to determine the microbial composition are robust. Here, several widely used molecular techniques were compared to establish the optimal methods to assess the bacterial composition in faecal samples from babies, before weaning.ResultsThe bacterial community profile detected in the faeces of infants is highly dependent on the methodology used. Bifidobacteria were the most abundant bacteria detected at 6 weeks in faeces from two initially breast-fed babies using fluorescent in situ hybridisation (FISH), in agreement with data from previous culture-based studies. Using the 16S rRNA gene sequencing approach, however, we found that the detection of bifidobacteria in particular crucially depended on the optimisation of the DNA extraction method, and the choice of primers used to amplify the V1–V3 regions of 16S rRNA genes prior to subsequent sequence analysis. Bifidobacteria were only well represented among amplified 16S rRNA gene sequences when mechanical disruption (bead-beating) procedures for DNA extraction were employed together with optimised “universal” PCR primers. These primers incorporate degenerate bases at positions where mismatches to bifidobacteria and other bacterial taxa occur. The use of a DNA extraction kit with no bead-beating step resulted in a complete absence of bifidobacteria in the sequence data, even when using the optimised primers.",
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note = "Acknowledgements The authors acknowledge the assistance of Grietje Holtrop (RINH-BioSS) with the statistical analysis of the data and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute’s 454 pyrosequencing team for generating 16S rRNA gene data. AWW, PS and JP received core funding support from the Wellcome Trust [grant number 098051]. AWW, JCM, HJF and KPS are funded by the Scottish Government (SG-RESAS).",
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AU - Flint, Harry J.

AU - Scott, Karen P.

N1 - Acknowledgements The authors acknowledge the assistance of Grietje Holtrop (RINH-BioSS) with the statistical analysis of the data and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute’s 454 pyrosequencing team for generating 16S rRNA gene data. AWW, PS and JP received core funding support from the Wellcome Trust [grant number 098051]. AWW, JCM, HJF and KPS are funded by the Scottish Government (SG-RESAS).

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N2 - BackgroundCharacterisation of the bacterial composition of the gut microbiota is increasingly carried out with a view to establish the role of different bacterial species in causation or prevention of disease. It is thus essential that the methods used to determine the microbial composition are robust. Here, several widely used molecular techniques were compared to establish the optimal methods to assess the bacterial composition in faecal samples from babies, before weaning.ResultsThe bacterial community profile detected in the faeces of infants is highly dependent on the methodology used. Bifidobacteria were the most abundant bacteria detected at 6 weeks in faeces from two initially breast-fed babies using fluorescent in situ hybridisation (FISH), in agreement with data from previous culture-based studies. Using the 16S rRNA gene sequencing approach, however, we found that the detection of bifidobacteria in particular crucially depended on the optimisation of the DNA extraction method, and the choice of primers used to amplify the V1–V3 regions of 16S rRNA genes prior to subsequent sequence analysis. Bifidobacteria were only well represented among amplified 16S rRNA gene sequences when mechanical disruption (bead-beating) procedures for DNA extraction were employed together with optimised “universal” PCR primers. These primers incorporate degenerate bases at positions where mismatches to bifidobacteria and other bacterial taxa occur. The use of a DNA extraction kit with no bead-beating step resulted in a complete absence of bifidobacteria in the sequence data, even when using the optimised primers.

AB - BackgroundCharacterisation of the bacterial composition of the gut microbiota is increasingly carried out with a view to establish the role of different bacterial species in causation or prevention of disease. It is thus essential that the methods used to determine the microbial composition are robust. Here, several widely used molecular techniques were compared to establish the optimal methods to assess the bacterial composition in faecal samples from babies, before weaning.ResultsThe bacterial community profile detected in the faeces of infants is highly dependent on the methodology used. Bifidobacteria were the most abundant bacteria detected at 6 weeks in faeces from two initially breast-fed babies using fluorescent in situ hybridisation (FISH), in agreement with data from previous culture-based studies. Using the 16S rRNA gene sequencing approach, however, we found that the detection of bifidobacteria in particular crucially depended on the optimisation of the DNA extraction method, and the choice of primers used to amplify the V1–V3 regions of 16S rRNA genes prior to subsequent sequence analysis. Bifidobacteria were only well represented among amplified 16S rRNA gene sequences when mechanical disruption (bead-beating) procedures for DNA extraction were employed together with optimised “universal” PCR primers. These primers incorporate degenerate bases at positions where mismatches to bifidobacteria and other bacterial taxa occur. The use of a DNA extraction kit with no bead-beating step resulted in a complete absence of bifidobacteria in the sequence data, even when using the optimised primers.

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