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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2011 Aug;77(15):5361-9. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00063-11. Epub 2011 Jun 10.

Design and verification of a pangenome microarray oligonucleotide probe set for Dehalococcoides spp.

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Department of Cell and Systems Biology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.


Dehalococcoides spp. are an industrially relevant group of Chloroflexi bacteria capable of reductively dechlorinating contaminants in groundwater environments. Existing Dehalococcoides genomes revealed a high level of sequence identity within this group, including 98 to 100% 16S rRNA sequence identity between strains with diverse substrate specificities. Common molecular techniques for identification of microbial populations are often not applicable for distinguishing Dehalococcoides strains. Here we describe an oligonucleotide microarray probe set designed based on clustered Dehalococcoides genes from five different sources (strain DET195, CBDB1, BAV1, and VS genomes and the KB-1 metagenome). This "pangenome" probe set provides coverage of core Dehalococcoides genes as well as strain-specific genes while optimizing the potential for hybridization to closely related, previously unknown Dehalococcoides strains. The pangenome probe set was compared to probe sets designed independently for each of the five Dehalococcoides strains. The pangenome probe set demonstrated better predictability and higher detection of Dehalococcoides genes than strain-specific probe sets on nontarget strains with <99% average nucleotide identity. An in silico analysis of the expected probe hybridization against the recently released Dehalococcoides strain GT genome and additional KB-1 metagenome sequence data indicated that the pangenome probe set performs more robustly than the combined strain-specific probe sets in the detection of genes not included in the original design. The pangenome probe set represents a highly specific, universal tool for the detection and characterization of Dehalococcoides from contaminated sites. It has the potential to become a common platform for Dehalococcoides-focused research, allowing meaningful comparisons between microarray experiments regardless of the strain examined.

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