Simultaneous Quantification of Multiple Bacteria by the BactoChip Microarray Designed to Target Species-Specific Marker Genes

Ballarini, Annalisa; Segata, Nicola; Huttenhower, Curtis; Jousson, Olivier
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
Bacteria are ubiquitous throughout the environment, the most abundant inhabitants of the healthy human microbiome, and causal pathogens in a variety of diseases. Their identification in disease is often an essential step in rapid diagnosis and targeted intervention, particularly in clinical settings. At present, clinical bacterial detection and discrimination is primarily culture-based, requiring both time and microbiological expertise, especially for bacteria that are not easily cultivated. Higher-throughput molecular methods based on PCR amplification or, recently, microarrays are reaching the clinic as well. However, these methods are currently restricted to a small set of microbes or based on conserved phylogenetic markers such as the 16S rRNA gene, which are difficult to resolve at the species or strain levels. Here, we designed and experimentally validated the BactoChip, an oligonucleotide microarray for bacterial detection and quantification. The chip allows the culture-independent identification of bacterial species, also determining their relative abundances in complex communities as occur in the commensal microbiota or in clinical settings. The microarray successfully distinguished among bacterial species from 21 different genera using 60-mer probes targeting a novel set of in silico identified high-resolution marker genes. The BactoChip additionally proved accurate in determining species-level relative abundances over a 100-fold dynamic range in complex bacterial communities and with a low limit of detection (0.1%). In combination with the continually increasing number of sequenced bacterial genomes, future iterations of the technology could enable to highly accurate clinically-oriented tools for rapid assessment of bacterial community composition and relative abundances.


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