Estimating Bacterial Diversity for Ecological Studies: Methods, Metrics, and Assumptions
- Journal Article
Rights / licenseCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
Methods to estimate microbial diversity have developed rapidly in an effort to understand the distribution and diversity of microorganisms in natural environments. For bacterial communities, the 16S rRNA gene is the phylogenetic marker gene of choice, but most studies select only a specific region of the 16S rRNA to estimate bacterial diversity. Whereas biases derived from from DNA extraction, primer choice and PCR amplification are well documented, we here address how the choice of variable region can influence a wide range of standard ecological metrics, such as species richness, phylogenetic diversity, β-diversity and rank-abundance distributions. We have used Illumina paired-end sequencing to estimate the bacterial diversity of 20 natural lakes across Switzerland derived from three trimmed variable 16S rRNA regions (V3, V4, V5). Species richness, phylogenetic diversity, community composition, β-diversity, and rank-abundance distributions differed significantly between 16S rRNA regions. Overall, patterns of diversity quantified by the V3 and V5 regions were more similar to one another than those assessed by the V4 region. Similar results were obtained when analyzing the datasets with different sequence similarity thresholds used during sequences clustering and when the same analysis was used on a reference dataset of sequences from the Greengenes database. In addition we also measured species richness from the same lake samples using ARISA Fingerprinting, but did not find a strong relationship between species richness estimated by Illumina and ARISA. We conclude that the selection of 16S rRNA region significantly influences the estimation of bacterial diversity and species distributions and that caution is warranted when comparing data from different variable regions as well as when using different sequencing techniques Show more
Journal / seriesPLoS ONE
Pages / Article No.
PublisherPublic Library of Science
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