A novel PCR-clamping assay reducing plant host DNA amplification significantly improves prokaryotic endo-microbiome community characterization.
Due to the sequence homology between the bacterial 16S rRNA gene and plant chloroplast and mitochondrial DNA, the taxonomic characterization of plant microbiome using amplicon-based high throughput sequencing often results in the overwhelming presence of plant-affiliated reads, preventing the thorough description of plant-associated microbial communities. In this work we developed a PCR blocking primer assay targeting the taxonomically informative V5-V6 region of the 16S rRNA gene in order to reduce plant DNA co-amplification, and increase diversity coverage of associated prokaryotic communities. Evaluation of our assay on the characterization of the prokaryotic endophytic communities of Zea mays, Pinus taeda and Spartina alternifora leaves led to significantly reducing the proportion of plant reads, yielded 20 times more prokaryotic reads and tripled the number of detected OTUs compared to a commonly used V5-V6 PCR protocol. To expand the application of our PCR-clamping assay across a wider taxonomic spectrum of plant hosts, we additionally provide an alignment of chloroplast and mitochondrial DNA sequences encompassing more than 200 terrestrial plant families as a supporting tool for customizing our blocking primers.
Lefèvre, E; Gardner, CM; Gunsch, CK
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