We present results demonstrating species-specificity and sub-species resolution by novel, automatically-designed metabarcoding primers for environmental DNA analysis.
Conventional metabarcoding remains a cornerstone of rapid, high-throughput environmental DNA (eDNA) community analysis and biodiversity assessment. Standard barcodes such as 16S (prokaryotes) and ITS1 (fungi/oomycetes) have been instrumental in identifying the complex composition of communities using total eDNA. However, standard barcodes have limitations in terms of resolution and quantitation and, though genus-level identification can be reliable, species-level identification is often not possible.
To overcome the limitations of resolution, we implemented extensions to the diagnostic primer design tool pdp (https://github.com/widdowquinn/find_differential_primers) that enable automated design of metabarcoding markers and corresponding primers that are (i) specific to a prescribed taxon at species level and (ii) capable of discriminating between members of the same species. This allows for rapid, high-throughput measurement of diversity below species level for a target organism.
We aimed to survey geographical distribution and pathogen transfer of the widepread plant pathogenic bacterium Pectobacterium atrosepticum (Pba). This organism has considerable sub-species taxonomic structure identifiable using MLST and with whole-genome methods, but which is not accessible using standard barcodes. We designed metabarcoding primers (202bp) specific to Pba using `pdp`, and established that these have resolution comparable to eight-gene MLST, revealing sub species-level diversity within single fields, and on the same individual plant host.
- Pectobacterium atrosepticum (Pba)