Project description:<h4>Background</h4>One limiting factor of short amplicon 16S rRNA gene sequencing approaches is the use of low DNA amounts in the amplicon generation step. Especially for low-biomass samples, insufficient or even commonly undetectable DNA amounts can limit or prohibit further analysis in standard protocols.<h4>Results</h4>Using a newly established protocol, very low DNA input amounts were found sufficient for reliable detection of bacteria using 16S rRNA gene sequencing compared to standard protocols. The improved protocol includes an optimized amplification strategy by using a digital droplet PCR. We demonstrate how PCR products are generated even when using very low concentrated DNA, unable to be detected by using a Qubit. Importantly, the use of different 16S rRNA gene primers had a greater effect on the resulting taxonomical profiles compared to using high or very low initial DNA amounts.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Our improved protocol takes advantage of ddPCR and allows faithful amplification of very low amounts of template. With this, samples of low bacterial biomass become comparable to those with high amounts of bacteria, since the first and most biasing steps are the same. Besides, it is imperative to state DNA concentrations and volumes used and to include negative controls indicating possible shifts in taxonomical profiles. Despite this, results produced by using different primer pairs cannot be easily compared.
Project description:The droplet digital polymerase chain reaction (ddPCR) is a novel molecular technique that allows rapid quantification of rare target DNA sequences. Aim of this study was to explore the feasibility of the ddPCR technique to detect pathogen DNA in whole blood and to assess the diagnostic accuracy of ddPCR to detect bloodstream infections (BSIs), benchmarked against blood cultures. Broad-range primers and probes were designed to detect bacterial 16S rRNA (and Gram stain for differentiation) and fungal 28S rRNA. To determine the detection limit of ddPCR, 10-fold serial dilutions of E. coli and C. albicans were spiked in both PBS and whole blood. The diagnostic accuracy of ddPCR was tested in historically collected frozen blood samples from adult patients suspected of a BSI and compared with blood cultures. Analyses were independently performed by two research analysts. Outcomes included sensitivity and specificity of ddPCR. Within 4 h, blood samples were drawn, and DNA was isolated and analysed. The ddPCR detection limit was approximately 1-2 bacteria or fungi per ddPCR reaction. In total, 45 blood samples were collected from patients, of which 15 (33%) presented with positive blood cultures. The overall sensitivity of ddPCR was 80% (95% CI 52-96) and specificity 87% (95% CI 69-96). In conclusion, the ddPCR technique has considerable potential and is able to detect very low amounts of pathogen DNA in whole blood within 4 h. Currently, ddPCR has a reasonable sensitivity and specificity, but requires further optimization to make it more useful for clinical practice.
Project description:The SRA (Sequence Read Archive) serves as primary depository for massive amounts of Next Generation Sequencing data, and currently host over 100,000 16S rRNA gene amplicon-based microbial profiles from various host habitats and environments. This number is increasing rapidly and there is a dire need for approaches to utilize this pool of knowledge. Here we created IMNGS (Integrated Microbial Next Generation Sequencing), an innovative platform that uniformly and systematically screens for and processes all prokaryotic 16S rRNA gene amplicon datasets available in SRA and uses them to build sample-specific sequence databases and OTU-based profiles. Via a web interface, this integrative sequence resource can easily be queried by users. We show examples of how the approach allows testing the ecological importance of specific microorganisms in different hosts or ecosystems, and performing targeted diversity studies for selected taxonomic groups. The platform also offers a complete workflow for de novo analysis of users' own raw 16S rRNA gene amplicon datasets for the sake of comparison with existing data. IMNGS can be accessed at www.imngs.org.
Project description:Otitis media (OM) is a cluster of diseases of the middle ear that commonly result from bacterial infection. OM subtypes in which the tympanic membrane is intact (acute otitis media and otitis media with effusion) are presumed to result from pathogen translocation through the eustachian tube. Recent molecular-based studies have suggested that a diverse middle ear microbiome exists in the absence of disease. These have been largely unsupported by culture and feature species that commonly contaminate low-biomass sequencing data. Combining culture-based and molecular techniques, we undertook a detailed investigation of the evidence for bacterial colonization of the healthy middle ear. Middle ear (ME), nasopharynx (NP), and external ear canal (EC) swabs were collected from a total of 25 adult patients undergoing cochlear implant, stapedotomy, or translabyrinthine vestibular schwannoma resection. Diagnostic culture, microscopy, quantitative PCR, and 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing were used to assess sample bacterial content. EC and NP microbiota were consistent with previous reports. In contrast, bacterial levels in ME samples were not significantly above those in unused control swabs. Commonly detected taxa were among recognized sequencing contaminants (Methylobacterium, Pseudomonas, and Acinetobacter). Linear regression of dominant ME taxa confirmed a negative relationship between relative abundance and bacterial load, consistent with contamination. No bacteria were detected by microscopy or diagnostic culture in any middle ear sample. Our findings cast substantial doubt on previous reports identifying a healthy middle ear microbiome using 16S amplicon sequencing.IMPORTANCE Recent molecular-based studies have suggested that a diverse middle ear microbiome in adults and children can exist in the absence of disease. These studies have been largely unsupported by culture and feature species that commonly contaminate low-biomass sequencing data. While 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing has proven to be a highly informative technique in many clinical contexts, it is susceptible to spurious signal arising from sequencing reagent contaminants where sample biomass is low. Combining culture-based and molecular techniques, we undertook a detailed investigation of the evidence for bacterial colonization of the healthy middle ear. In finding no evidence of viable bacterial cells in middle ear samples, our study further underlines the importance of careful consideration of amplicon sequence data derived from very-low-biomass contexts and the value of analytical approaches that combine culture and molecular techniques.
Project description:Background: Profiling the microbiome of low-biomass samples is challenging for metagenomics since these samples are prone to contain DNA from other sources (e.g. host or environment). The usual approach is sequencing short regions of the 16S rRNA gene, which fails to assign taxonomy to genus and species level. To achieve an increased taxonomic resolution, we aim to develop long-amplicon PCR-based approaches using Nanopore sequencing. We assessed two different genetic markers: the full-length 16S rRNA (~1,500 bp) and the 16S-ITS-23S region from the rrn operon (4,300 bp). Methods: We sequenced a clinical isolate of Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, two mock communities and two pools of low-biomass samples (dog skin). Nanopore sequencing was performed on MinION™ using the 1D PCR barcoding kit. Sequences were pre-processed, and data were analyzed using EPI2ME or Minimap2 with rrn database. Consensus sequences of the 16S-ITS-23S genetic marker were obtained using canu. Results: The full-length 16S rRNA and the 16S-ITS-23S region of the rrn operon were used to retrieve the microbiota composition of the samples at the genus and species level. For the Staphylococcus pseudintermedius isolate, the amplicons were assigned to the correct bacterial species in ~98% of the cases with the16S-ITS-23S genetic marker, and in ~68%, with the 16S rRNA gene when using EPI2ME. Using mock communities, we found that the full-length 16S rRNA gene represented better the abundances of a microbial community; whereas, 16S-ITS-23S obtained better resolution at the species level. Finally, we characterized low-biomass skin microbiota samples and detected species with an environmental origin. Conclusions: Both full-length 16S rRNA and the 16S-ITS-23S of the rrn operon retrieved the microbiota composition of simple and complex microbial communities, even from the low-biomass samples such as dog skin. For an increased resolution at the species level, targeting the 16S-ITS-23S of the rrn operon would be the best choice.
Project description:High-throughput phylogenetic 16S rRNA gene analysis has permitted to thoroughly delve into microbial community complexity and to understand host-microbiota interactions in health and disease. The analysis comprises sample collection and storage, genomic DNA extraction, 16S rRNA gene amplification, high-throughput amplicon sequencing and bioinformatic analysis. Low biomass microbiota samples (e.g. biopsies, tissue swabs and lavages) are receiving increasing attention, but optimal standardization for analysis of low biomass samples has yet to be developed. Here we tested the lower bacterial concentration required to perform 16S rRNA gene analysis using three different DNA extraction protocols, three different mechanical lysing series and two different PCR protocols. A mock microbiota community standard and low biomass samples (10<sup>8</sup>, 10<sup>7</sup>, 10<sup>6</sup>, 10<sup>5</sup> and 10<sup>4</sup> microbes) from two healthy donor stools were employed to assess optimal sample processing for 16S rRNA gene analysis using paired-end Illumina MiSeq technology. Three DNA extraction protocols tested in our study performed similar with regards to representing microbiota composition, but extraction yield was better for silica columns compared to bead absorption and chemical precipitation. Furthermore, increasing mechanical lysing time and repetition did ameliorate the representation of bacterial composition. The most influential factor enabling appropriate representation of microbiota composition remains sample biomass. Indeed, bacterial densities below 10<sup>6</sup> cells resulted in loss of sample identity based on cluster analysis for all tested protocols. Finally, we excluded DNA extraction bias using a genomic DNA standard, which revealed that a semi-nested PCR protocol represented microbiota composition better than classical PCR. Based on our results, starting material concentration is an important limiting factor, highlighting the need to adapt protocols for dealing with low biomass samples. Our study suggests that the use of prolonged mechanical lysing, silica membrane DNA isolation and a semi-nested PCR protocol improve the analysis of low biomass samples. Using the improved protocol we report a lower limit of 10<sup>6</sup> bacteria per sample for robust and reproducible microbiota analysis.
Project description:Amplification, sequencing, and analysis of the 16S rRNA gene affords characterization of microbial community composition. As this tool has become more popular and amplicon-sequencing applications have grown in the total number of samples, growth in sample multiplexing is becoming necessary while maintaining high sequence quality and sequencing depth. Here, modifications to the Illumina HiSeq 2500 platform are described which produce greater multiplexing capabilities and 300-bp paired-end reads of higher quality than those produced by the current Illumina MiSeq platform. To improve the feasibility and flexibility of this method, a 2-step PCR amplification protocol is also described that allows for targeting of different amplicon regions, and enhances amplification success from samples with low bacterial bioburden. IMPORTANCE Amplicon sequencing has become a popular and widespread tool for surveying microbial communities. Lower overall costs associated with high-throughput sequencing have made it a widely adopted approach, especially for projects that necessitate sample multiplexing to eliminate batch effect and reduced time to acquire data. The method for amplicon sequencing on the Illumina HiSeq 2500 platform described here provides improved multiplexing capabilities while simultaneously producing greater quality sequence data and lower per-sample cost relative to those of the Illumina MiSeq platform without sacrificing amplicon length. To make this method more flexible for various amplicon-targeted regions as well as improve amplification from low-biomass samples, we also present and validate a 2-step PCR library preparation method.
Project description:In the last decade, many researchers have embraced 16S rRNA gene sequencing techniques, which has led to a wealth of publications and documented differences in the composition of microbial communities derived from many different ecosystems. However, comparison between different microbiota studies is currently very difficult due to the lack of a standardized 16S rRNA gene sequencing protocol. Here we report on a novel approach employing micelle PCR (micPCR) in combination with an internal calibrator that allows for standardization of microbiota profiles via their absolute abundances. The addition of an internal calibrator allows the researcher to express the resulting operational taxonomic units (OTUs) as a measure of 16S rRNA gene copies by correcting the number of sequences of each individual OTU in a sample for efficiency differences in the NGS process. Additionally, accurate quantification of OTUs obtained from negative extraction control samples allows for the subtraction of contaminating bacterial DNA derived from the laboratory environment or chemicals/reagents used. Using equimolar synthetic microbial community samples and low biomass clinical samples, we demonstrate that the calibrated micPCR/NGS methodology possess a much higher precision and a lower limit of detection compared with traditional PCR/NGS, resulting in more accurate microbiota profiles suitable for multi-study comparison.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Recent studies suggested the existence of (poly-)microbial infections in human brains. These have been described either as putative pathogens linked to the neuro-inflammatory changes seen in Parkinson's disease (PD) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) or as a "brain microbiome" in the context of healthy patients' brain samples.<h4>Methods</h4>Using 16S rRNA gene sequencing, we tested the hypothesis that there is a bacterial brain microbiome. We evaluated brain samples from healthy human subjects and individuals suffering from PD (olfactory bulb and pre-frontal cortex), as well as murine brains. In line with state-of-the-art recommendations, we included several negative and positive controls in our analysis and estimated total bacterial biomass by 16S rRNA gene qPCR.<h4>Results</h4>Amplicon sequencing did detect bacterial signals in both human and murine samples, but estimated bacterial biomass was extremely low in all samples. Stringent reanalyses implied bacterial signals being explained by a combination of exogenous DNA contamination (54.8%) and false positive amplification of host DNA (34.2%, off-target amplicons). Several seemingly brain-enriched microbes in our dataset turned out to be false-positive signals upon closer examination. We identified off-target amplification as a major confounding factor in low-bacterial/high-host-DNA scenarios. These amplified human or mouse DNA sequences were clustered and falsely assigned to bacterial taxa in the majority of tested amplicon sequencing pipelines. Off-target amplicons seemed to be related to the tissue's sterility and could also be found in independent brain 16S rRNA gene sequences.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Taxonomic signals obtained from (extremely) low biomass samples by 16S rRNA gene sequencing must be scrutinized closely to exclude the possibility of off-target amplifications, amplicons that can only appear enriched in biological samples, but are sometimes assigned to bacterial taxa. Sequences must be explicitly matched against any possible background genomes present in large quantities (i.e., the host genome). Using close scrutiny in our approach, we find no evidence supporting the hypothetical presence of either a brain microbiome or a bacterial infection in PD brains. Video abstract.
Project description:Human microbiome studies remain focused on bacteria, as they comprise the dominant component of the microbiota. Recent advances in sequencing technology and optimization of amplicon sequencing protocols have allowed the description of other members of the microbiome, including eukaryotes (fungi) and, most recently, archaea. There are no known human-associated archaeal pathogens. Their diversity and contribution to health and chronic respiratory diseases, such as chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS), are unknown. Patients with CRS suffer from long-term sinus infections, and while the microbiota is hypothesized to play a role in its pathogenesis, the exact mechanism is poorly understood. In this cross-sectional study, we applied a recently optimized protocol to describe the prevalence, diversity and abundance of archaea in swab samples from the middle meatus of 60 individuals with and without CRS. A nested PCR approach was used to amplify the archaeal 16S rRNA gene for sequencing, and bacterial and archaeal load (also based on 16S rRNA genes) were estimated using Droplet Digital™ PCR (ddPCR). A total of 16 archaeal amplicon sequence variants (ASVs) from the phyla Euryarchaeota and Thaumarchaeota were identified. Archaeal ASVs were detected in 7/60 individuals, independent of disease state, whereas bacterial ASVs were detected in 60/60. Bacteria were also significantly more abundant than archaea. The ddPCR method was more sensitive than amplicon sequencing at detecting archaeal DNA in samples. Phylogenetic trees were constructed to visualize the evolutionary relationships between archaeal ASVs, isolates and clones. ASVs were placed into phylogenetic clades containing an apparent paucity of human-associated reference sequences, revealing how little studied the human archaeome is. This is the largest study to date to examine the human respiratory-associated archaeome, and provides the first insights into the prevalence, diversity and abundance of archaea in the human sinuses.