Investigating the impact of storage conditions on microbial community composition in soil samples.
ABSTRACT: Recent advances in DNA sequencing technologies have allowed scientists to probe increasingly complex biological systems, including the diversity of bacteria in the environment. However, despite a multitude of recent studies incorporating these methods, many questions regarding how environmental samples should be collected and stored still persist. Here, we assess the impact of different soil storage conditions on microbial community composition using Illumina-based 16S rRNA V4 amplicon sequencing. Both storage time and temperature affected bacterial community composition and structure. Frozen samples maintained the highest alpha diversity and differed least in beta diversity, suggesting the utility of cold storage for maintaining consistent communities. Samples stored for intermediate times (three and seven days) had both the highest alpha diversity and the largest differences in overall beta diversity, showing the degree of community change after sample collection. These divergences notwithstanding, differences in neither storage time nor storage temperature substantially altered overall communities relative to more than 500 previously examined soil samples. These results systematically support previous studies and stress the importance of methodological consistency for accurate characterization and comparison of soil microbiological assemblages.
Project description:In agricultural settings, microbes and antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) have the potential to be transferred across diverse environments and ecosystems. The consequences of these microbial transfers are unclear and understudied. On dairy farms, the storage of cow manure in manure pits and subsequent application to field soil as a fertilizer may facilitate the spread of the mammalian gut microbiome and its associated ARGs to the environment. To determine the extent of both taxonomic and resistance similarity during these transitions, we collected fresh manure, manure from pits, and field soil across 15 different dairy farms for three consecutive seasons. We used a combination of shotgun metagenomic sequencing and functional metagenomics to quantitatively interrogate taxonomic and ARG compositional variation on farms. We found that as the microbiome transitions from fresh dairy cow manure to manure pits, microbial taxonomic compositions and resistance profiles experience distinct restructuring, including decreases in alpha diversity and shifts in specific ARG abundances that potentially correspond to fresh manure going from a gut-structured community to an environment-structured community. Further, we did not find evidence of shared microbial community or a transfer of ARGs between manure and field soil microbiomes. Our results suggest that fresh manure experiences a compositional change in manure pits during storage and that the storage of manure in manure pits does not result in a depletion of ARGs. We did not find evidence of taxonomic or ARG restructuring of soil microbiota with the application of manure to field soils, as soil communities remained resilient to manure-induced perturbation.<b>IMPORTANCE</b> The addition of dairy cow manure-stored in manure pits-to field soil has the potential to introduce not only organic nutrients but also mammalian microbial communities and antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) to soil communities. Using shotgun sequencing paired with functional metagenomics, we showed that microbial community composition changed between fresh manure and manure pit samples with a decrease in gut-associated pathobionts, while ARG abundance and diversity remained high. However, field soil communities were distinct from those in manure in both microbial taxonomic and ARG composition. These results broaden our understanding of the transfer of microbial communities in agricultural settings and suggest that field soil microbial communities are resilient against the deposition of ARGs or microbial communities from manure.
Project description:Soil microbial communities play a critical role in nutrient transformation and storage in all ecosystems. Quantifying the seasonal and long-term temporal extent of genetic and functional variation of soil microorganisms in response to biotic and abiotic changes within and across ecosystems will inform our understanding of the effect of climate change on these processes. We examined spatial and seasonal variation in microbial communities based on 16S rRNA gene sequencing and phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) composition across four biomes: a tropical broadleaf forest (Hawaii), taiga (Alaska), semiarid grassland-shrubland (Utah), and a subtropical coniferous forest (Florida). In this study, we used a team-based instructional approach leveraging the iPlant Collaborative to examine publicly available National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) 16S gene and PLFA measurements that quantify microbial diversity, composition, and growth. Both profiling techniques revealed that microbial communities grouped strongly by ecosystem and were predominately influenced by three edaphic factors: pH, soil water content, and cation exchange capacity. Temporal variability of microbial communities differed by profiling technique; 16S-based community measurements showed significant temporal variability only in the subtropical coniferous forest communities, specifically through changes within subgroups of Acidobacteria. Conversely, PLFA-based community measurements showed seasonal shifts in taiga and tropical broadleaf forest systems. These differences may be due to the premise that 16S-based measurements are predominantly influenced by large shifts in the abiotic soil environment, while PLFA-based analyses reflect the metabolically active fraction of the microbial community, which is more sensitive to local disturbances and biotic interactions. To address the technical issue of the response of soil microbial communities to sample storage temperature, we compared 16S-based community structure in soils stored at -80°C and -20°C and found no significant differences in community composition based on storage temperature. Free, open access datasets and data sharing platforms are powerful tools for integrating research and teaching in undergraduate and graduate student classrooms. They are a valuable resource for fostering interdisciplinary collaborations, testing ecological theory, model development and validation, and generating novel hypotheses. Training in data analysis and interpretation of large datasets in university classrooms through project-based learning improves the learning experience for students and enables their use of these significant resources throughout their careers.
Project description:<h4>Unlabelled</h4>Community profiling of the oral microbiome requires the recovery of quality sequences in order to accurately describe microbial community structure and composition. Our objective was to assess the effects of specimen collection method, storage medium, and storage conditions on the relative abundance of taxa in saliva and plaque identified using 16S rRNA genes. We also assessed short-term changes in taxon composition and relative abundance and compared the salivary and dental plaque communities in children and adults. Over a 2-week period, four successive saliva and dental plaque specimens were collected from four adults with no dental decay (108 samples), and two successive specimens were collected from six children with four or more erupted teeth (48 samples). There were minimal differences in community composition at the phylum and operational taxonomic unit levels between dental plaque collection using a scaler and collection using a CytoSoft brush. Plaque samples stored in OMNIgene medium showed higher within-sample Shannon diversity, were compositionally different, and were more similar to each other than plaque stored in liquid dental transport medium. Saliva samples stored in OMNIgene recovered similar communities for at least a week following storage at room temperature. However, the microbial communities recovered from plaque and saliva stored in OMNIgene were significantly different in composition from their counterparts stored in liquid dental transport medium. Dental plaque communities collected from the same tooth type over four successive visits from the same adult did not significantly differ in structure or composition.<h4>Importance</h4>Large-scale epidemiologic studies require collection over time and space, often with multiple teams collecting, storing, and processing data. Therefore, it is essential to understand how sensitive study results are to modest changes in collection and storage protocols that may occur with variation in personnel, resources available at a study site, and shipping requirements. The research presented in this paper measures the effects of multiple storage parameters and collection methodologies on the measured ecology of the oral microbiome from healthy adults and children. These results will potentially enable investigators to conduct oral microbiome studies at maximal efficiency by guiding informed administrative decisions pertaining to the necessary field or clinical work.
Project description:While the wheat-associated microbiome is of major agricultural importance, little is known about the alterations in wheat grain microbial community composition during storage. Characterization of the bacterial and fungal communities in stored wheat grains revealed the impact of phosphine fumigation, one of the most effective methods to eliminate insects in stored commodities, on the composition of the wheat grain microbiome. High-throughput amplicon sequencing of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene and fungal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region was used to analyze the wheat grain microbiome at different times over as 6 months period of storage. Higher bacterial diversity was found across the samples during the first (immediately after harvest) and second (3 months later) time points, with a predominance of Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes and Planctomycetes. A two-fold decrease in the number of bacterial operational taxonomic units (OTUs) was observed in wheat grains at the last time point (6 months later), following phosphine treatment. In contrast to the effect of phosphine on bacteria, it did not affect fungal diversity in stored grains. The majority of fungal sequences were assigned to Ascomycota, followed by Basidiomycota, Glomeromycota, and unidentified fungi, which were evenly distributed throughout the storage period. Alpha and beta diversity analyses were confirmed by examination of the cultured microbial taxa obtained from the stored wheat grains. Mycotoxin analysis of wheat grains collected after phosphine fumigation revealed the presence of Fusarium toxins, primarily deoxynivalenol (DON). Several mycotoxigenic Fusarium spp. were also detected in the same samples. Results of the present study indicate that microbiome of stored, whole wheat grains was strongly affected by phosphine fumigation, which changed the structure of the microbial community leading to shifts in species composition toward mycotoxigenic strains. A better understanding of the complex interactions within the microbial communities of stored grains will assist in the development of novel biocontrol strategies to overcome mycotoxin contamination.
Project description:Large-scale cohort studies are currently being designed to investigate the human microbiome in health and disease. Adequate sampling strategies are required to limit bias due to shifts in microbial communities during sampling and storage. Therefore, we examined the impact of different sampling and storage conditions on the stability of fecal microbial communities in healthy and diseased subjects. Fecal samples from 10 healthy controls, 10 irritable bowel syndrome and 8 inflammatory bowel disease patients were collected on site, aliquoted immediately after defecation and stored at -80 °C, -20 °C for 1 week, at +4°C or room temperature for 24 hours. Fecal transport swabs (FecalSwab, Copan) were collected and stored for 48-72 hours at room temperature. We used pyrosequencing of the 16S gene to investigate the stability of microbial communities. Alpha diversity did not differ between all storage methods and -80 °C, except for the fecal swabs. UPGMA clustering and principal coordinate analysis showed significant clustering by test subject (p < 0.001) but not by storage method. Bray-Curtis dissimilarity and (un)weighted UniFrac showed a significant higher distance between fecal swabs and -80 °C versus the other methods and -80 °C samples (p < 0.009). The relative abundance of Ruminococcus and Enterobacteriaceae did not differ between the storage methods versus -80 °C, but was higher in fecal swabs (p < 0.05). Storage up to 24 hours (at +4 °C or room temperature) or freezing at -20 °C did not significantly alter the fecal microbial community structure compared to direct freezing of samples from healthy subjects and patients with gastrointestinal disorders.
Project description:Sample storage conditions are important for unbiased analysis of microbial communities in metagenomic studies. Specifically, for infant gut microbiota studies, stool specimens are often exposed to room temperature (RT) conditions prior to analysis. This could lead to variations in structural and quantitative assessment of bacterial communities. To estimate such effects of RT storage, we collected feces from 29 healthy infants (0-3 months) and partitioned each sample into 5 portions to be stored for different lengths of time at RT before freezing at -80?°C. Alpha diversity did not differ between samples with storage time from 0 to 2?hours. The UniFrac distances and microbial composition analysis showed significant differences by testing among individuals, but not by testing between different time points at RT. Changes in the relative abundance of some specific (less common, minor) taxa were still found during storage at room temperature. Our results support previous studies in children and adults, and provided useful information for accurate characterization of infant gut microbiomes. In particular, our study furnished a solid foundation and justification for using fecal samples exposed to RT for less than 2?hours for comparative analyses between various medical conditions.
Project description:Elevational gradients strongly affect the spatial distribution and structure of soil bacterial communities. However, our understanding of the effects and determining factors is still limited, especially in the deep soil layer. Here, we investigated the diversity and composition of soil bacterial communities in different soil layers along a 1,500-m elevational gradient in the Taibai Mountain. The variables associated with climate conditions, plant communities, and soil properties were analyzed to assess their contributions to the variations in bacterial communities. Soil bacterial richness and α-diversity showed a hump-shaped trend with elevation in both surface and deep layers. In the surface layer, pH was the main factor driving the elevational pattern in bacterial diversity, while in the deep layer, pH and soil carbon (C) availability were the two main predictors. Bacterial community composition differed significantly along the elevational gradient in all soil layers. In the surface layer, Acidobacteria, Delta-proteobacteria, and Planctomycetes were significantly more abundant in the lower elevation sites than in the higher elevation sites; and Gemmatimonadetes, Chloroflexi, and Beta-proteobacteria were more abundant in the higher elevation sites. In the deep layer, AD3 was most abundant in the highest elevation site. The elevational pattern of community composition co-varied with mean annual temperature, mean annual precipitation, diversity and basal area of trees, pH, soil C availability, and soil C fractions. Statistical results showed that pH was the main driver of the elevational pattern of the bacterial community composition in the surface soil layer, while soil C fractions contributed more to the variance of the bacterial composition in the deep soil layer. These results indicated that changes in soil bacterial communities along the elevational gradient were driven by soil properties in both surface and deep soil layers, which are critical for predicting ecosystem functions under future climate change scenarios.
Project description:<h4>Objectives</h4>Altitude integrates changes in environmental conditions that determine shifts in vegetation, including temperature, precipitation, solar radiation and edaphogenetic processes. In turn, vegetation alters soil biophysical properties through litter input, root growth, microbial and macrofaunal interactions. The belowground traits of plant communities modify soil processes in different ways, but it is not known how root traits influence soil biota at the community level. We collected data to investigate how elevation affects belowground community traits and soil microbial and faunal communities. This dataset comprises data from a temperate climate in France and a twin study was performed in a tropical zone in Mexico.<h4>Data description</h4>The paper describes soil physical and chemical properties, climatic variables, plant community composition and species abundance, plant community traits, soil microbial functional diversity and macrofaunal abundance and diversity. Data are provided for six elevations (1400-2400 m) ranging from montane forest to alpine prairie. We focused on soil biophysical properties beneath three dominant plant species that structure local vegetation. These data are useful for understanding how shifts in vegetation communities affect belowground processes, such as water infiltration, soil aggregation and carbon storage. Data will also help researchers understand how plant communities adjust to a changing climate/environment.
Project description:Studies involving gut microbiome analysis play an increasing role in the evaluation of health and disease in humans and animals alike. Fecal sampling methods for DNA preservation in laboratory, clinical, and field settings can greatly influence inferences of microbial composition and diversity, but are often inconsistent and under-investigated between studies. Many laboratories have utilized either temperature control or preservation buffers for optimization of DNA preservation, but few studies have evaluated the effects of combining both methods to preserve fecal microbiota. To determine the optimal method for fecal DNA preservation, we collected fecal samples from one canine donor and stored aliquots in RNAlater, 70% ethanol, 50:50 glycerol:PBS, or without buffer at 25 °C, 4 °C, and -80 °C. Fecal DNA was extracted, quantified, and 16S rRNA gene analysis performed on Days 0, 7, 14, and 56 to evaluate changes in DNA concentration, purity, and bacterial diversity and composition over time. We detected overall effects on bacterial community of storage buffer (F-value = 6.87, DF = 3, P < 0.001), storage temperature (F-value=1.77, DF = 3, P = 0.037), and duration of sample storage (F-value = 3.68, DF = 3, P < 0.001). Changes in bacterial composition were observed in samples stored in -80 °C without buffer, a commonly used method for fecal DNA storage, suggesting that simply freezing samples may be suboptimal for bacterial analysis. Fecal preservation with 70% ethanol and RNAlater closely resembled that of fresh samples, though RNAlater yielded significantly lower DNA concentrations (DF = 8.57, P < 0.001). Although bacterial composition varied with temperature and buffer storage, 70% ethanol was the best method for preserving bacterial DNA in canine feces, yielding the highest DNA concentration and minimal changes in bacterial diversity and composition. The differences observed between samples highlight the need to consider optimized post-collection methods in microbiome research.
Project description:Sequencing-based studies of the human faecal microbiota are increasingly common. Appropriate storage of sample material is essential to avoid the introduction of post-collection bias in microbial community composition. Rapid freezing to -80 °C is commonly considered to be best-practice. However, this is not feasible in many studies, particularly those involving sample collection in participants' homes. We determined the extent to which a range of stabilisation and storage strategies maintained the composition of faecal microbial community structure relative to freezing to -80 °C. Refrigeration at 4 °C, storage at ambient temperature, and the use of several common preservative buffers (RNAlater, OMNIgene.GUT, Tris-EDTA) were assessed relative to freezing. Following 72 hours of storage, faecal microbial composition was assessed by 16 S rRNA amplicon sequencing. Refrigeration was associated with no significant alteration in faecal microbiota diversity or composition. However, samples stored using other conditions showed substantial divergence compared to -80 °C control samples. Aside from refrigeration, the use of OMNIgene.GUT resulted in the least alteration, while the greatest change was seen in samples stored in Tris-EDTA buffer. The commercially available OMNIgene.GUT kit may provide an important alternative where refrigeration and cold chain transportation is not available.