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BMC Microbiol. 2009 Apr 8;9:68. doi: 10.1186/1471-2180-9-68.

Sequence analysis of percent G+C fraction libraries of human faecal bacterial DNA reveals a high number of Actinobacteria.

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Department of Basic Veterinary Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, Finland.



The human gastrointestinal (GI) tract microbiota is characterised by an abundance of uncultured bacteria most often assigned in phyla Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes. Diversity of this microbiota, even though approached with culture independent techniques in several studies, still requires more elucidation. The main purpose of this work was to study whether the genomic percent guanine and cytosine (%G+C) -based profiling and fractioning prior to 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis reveal higher microbiota diversity, especially with high G+C bacteria suggested to be underrepresented in previous studies.


A phylogenetic analysis of the composition of the human GI microbiota of 23 healthy adult subjects was performed from a pooled faecal bacterial DNA sample by combining genomic %G+C -based profiling and fractioning with 16S rRNA gene cloning and sequencing. A total of 3199 partial 16S rRNA genes were sequenced. For comparison, 459 clones were sequenced from a comparable unfractioned sample. The most important finding was that the proportional amount of sequences affiliating with the phylum Actinobacteria was 26.6% in the %G+C fractioned sample but only 3.5% in the unfractioned sample. The orders Coriobacteriales, Bifidobacteriales and Actinomycetales constituted the 65 actinobacterial phylotypes in the fractioned sample, accounting for 50%, 47% and 3% of sequences within the phylum, respectively.


This study shows that the %G+C profiling and fractioning prior to cloning and sequencing can reveal a significantly larger proportion of high G+C content bacteria within the clones recovered, compared with the unfractioned sample in the human GI tract. Especially the order Coriobacteriales within the phylum Actinobacteria was found to be more abundant than previously estimated with conventional sequencing studies.

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