Evaluation of the Effects of Library Preparation Procedure and Sample Characteristics on the Accuracy of Metagenomic Profiles

Shotgun metagenomic sequencing has transformed our understanding of microbial community ecology. However, preparing metagenomic libraries for high-throughput DNA sequencing remains a costly, labor-intensive, and time-consuming procedure, which in turn limits the utility of metagenomes. Several library preparation procedures have recently been developed to offset these costs, but it is unclear how these newer procedures compare to current standards in the field. In particular, it is not clear if all such procedures perform equally well across different types of microbial communities or if features of the biological samples being processed (e.g., DNA amount) impact the accuracy of the approach. To address these questions, we assessed how five different shotgun DNA sequence library preparation methods, including the commonly used Nextera Flex kit, perform when applied to metagenomic DNA. We measured each method’s ability to produce metagenomic data that accurately represent the underlying taxonomic and genetic diversity of the community. We performed these analyses across a range of microbial community types (e.g., soil, coral associated, and mouse gut associated) and input DNA amounts. We find that the type of community and amount of input DNA influence each method’s performance, indicating that careful consideration may be needed when selecting between methods, especially for low-complexity communities. However, the cost-effective preparation methods that we assessed are generally comparable to the current gold-standard Nextera DNA Flex kit for high-complexity communities. Overall, the results from this analysis will help expand and even facilitate access to metagenomic approaches in future studies. IMPORTANCE Metagenomic library preparation methods and sequencing technologies continue to advance rapidly, allowing researchers to characterize microbial communities in previously underexplored environmental samples and systems. However, widely accepted standardized library preparation methods can be cost-prohibitive. Newly available approaches may be less expensive, but their efficacy in comparison to standardized methods remains unknown. In this study, we compared five different metagenomic library preparation methods. We evaluated each method across a range of microbial communities varying in complexity and quantity of input DNA. Our findings demonstrate the importance of considering sample properties, including community type, composition, and DNA amount, when choosing the most appropriate metagenomic library preparation method.


coral; gut; library preparation; metagenomics; microbiome; next-generation sequencing; soil.

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