The use of high-throughput sequencing technologies with the 16S rRNA gene for characterization of bacterial and archaeal communities has become routine. However, the adoption of sequencing methods for eukaryotes has been slow, despite their significance to natural and engineered systems. There are large variations among the target genes used for amplicon sequencing, and for the 18S rRNA gene, there is no consensus on which hypervariable region provides the most suitable representation of diversity. Additionally, it is unclear how much PCR/sequencing bias affects the depiction of community structure using current primers. The present study amplified the V4 and V8-V9 regions from seven microalgal mock communities as well as eukaryotic communities from freshwater, coastal, and wastewater samples to examine the effect of PCR/sequencing bias on community structure and membership. We found that degeneracies on the 3' end of the current V4-specific primers impact read length and mean relative abundance. Furthermore, the PCR/sequencing error is markedly higher for GC-rich members than for communities with balanced GC content. Importantly, the V4 region failed to reliably capture 2 of the 12 mock community members, and the V8-V9 hypervariable region more accurately represents mean relative abundance and alpha and beta diversity. Overall, the V4 and V8-V9 regions show similar community representations over freshwater, coastal, and wastewater environments, but specific samples show markedly different communities. These results indicate that multiple primer sets may be advantageous for gaining a more complete understanding of community structure and highlight the importance of including mock communities composed of species of interest.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology