The Nature and Frequency of Chimeras in Eukaryotic Metagenetic Samples.

Dorota L. Porazinska, Robin M. Giblin-Davis, Way Sung, W. Kelley Thomas

Abstract


Pyrosequencing of an artificially assembled nematode community of known nematode species at known densities allowed us to characterize the potential extent of chimera problems in multi-template eukaryotic samples. Chimeras were confirmed to be very common, making up to 17% of all high quality pyrosequencing reads and exceeding 40% of all OCTUs (operationally clustered taxonomic units). Typically, chimeric OCTUs were made up of single or double reads, but very well covered OCTUs were also present. As expected, the majority of chimeras were formed between two DNA molecules of nematode origin, but a small proportion involved a nematode and a fragment of another eukaryote origin. In addition, examples of a combination of three or even four different template origins were observed. All chimeras were associated with the presence of conserved regions with 80% of all recombinants following a conserved region of about 25bp. While there was a positive influence of species abundance on the overall number of chimeras, the influence of specific-species identity was less apparent. We also suggest that the problem is not nematode exclusive, but instead applies to other eukaryotes typically accompanying nematodes (e.g. fungi, rotifers, tardigrades). An analysis of real environmental samples revealed the presence of chimeras for all eukaryotic taxa in patterns similar to that observed in artificial nematode communities. This information warrants caution for biodiversity studies utilizing a step of PCR amplification of complex DNA samples. When unrecognized, generated abundant chimeric sequences falsely overestimate eukaryotic biodiversity.

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