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Use of an improved high-throughput absolute abundance quantification method to characterize soil bacterial community and dynamics

Yang, Li, Lou, Jun, Wang, Haizhen, Wu, Laosheng, Xu, Jianming
The Science of the total environment 2018 v.633 pp. 360-371
bacterial communities, case studies, gene dosage, high-throughput nucleotide sequencing, lognormal distribution, researchers, ribosomal RNA, soil bacteria, uncertainty
High-throughput sequencing has dramatically expanded our understanding of bacterial communities based on the information of the species types and their relative abundances. Recently, researchers have also become aware of a deficiency in not considering the absolute abundance in this technique. Combining two or more different methods has typically been used to achieve absolute quantification of microbial communities. However, making a combination of different methods not only is time-consuming but also involves potential uncertainty due to variations in the experimental conditions. To simplify the experimental procedure and improve the high-throughput absolute abundance quantification (HAAQ) of a soil bacterial community, we propose an HAAQ method that uses an internal standard strain (ISS) HAAQ-GFP to simultaneously obtain both the relative and absolute abundances in the soil bacterial community. The results showed that a soil bacterial community and its dynamics can be better characterized by the HAAQ method when the optimal concentrations of ISS HAAQ-GFP (105 to 107cellsg−1) were used, and a 16S rRNA gene copy number adjustment was applied. Based on the HAAQ method, we first found that soil bacterial absolute abundances at the genus level fitted well to the partial log-normal distribution function, and most genera concentrations were in the range of 103.5 to 106.5cellsg−1 in the test soils. Our case studies also indicated that more comprehensive descriptions of soil bacterial communities and their dynamics can be achieved by both the relative and absolute abundances than by the relative abundance alone. The improved HAAQ method can be potentially applied to other microbial ecological studies and to stimulating the development of quantitative bacterial ecology studies.