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ISME J. 2012 Nov;6(11):2056-66. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2012.35. Epub 2012 Apr 26.

Comparison of large-insert, small-insert and pyrosequencing libraries for metagenomic analysis.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA.

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  • ISME J. 2012 Nov;6(11):2152.


The development of DNA sequencing methods for characterizing microbial communities has evolved rapidly over the past decades. To evaluate more traditional, as well as newer methodologies for DNA library preparation and sequencing, we compared fosmid, short-insert shotgun and 454 pyrosequencing libraries prepared from the same metagenomic DNA samples. GC content was elevated in all fosmid libraries, compared with shotgun and 454 libraries. Taxonomic composition of the different libraries suggested that this was caused by a relative underrepresentation of dominant taxonomic groups with low GC content, notably Prochlorales and the SAR11 cluster, in fosmid libraries. While these abundant taxa had a large impact on library representation, we also observed a positive correlation between taxon GC content and fosmid library representation in other low-GC taxa, suggesting a general trend. Analysis of gene category representation in different libraries indicated that the functional composition of a library was largely a reflection of its taxonomic composition, and no additional systematic biases against particular functional categories were detected at the level of sequencing depth in our samples. Another important but less predictable factor influencing the apparent taxonomic and functional library composition was the read length afforded by the different sequencing technologies. Our comparisons and analyses provide a detailed perspective on the influence of library type on the recovery of microbial taxa in metagenomic libraries and underscore the different uses and utilities of more traditional, as well as contemporary 'next-generation' DNA library construction and sequencing technologies for exploring the genomics of the natural microbial world.

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