PCR-Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis of Complex Microbial Communities: A Two-Step Approach to Address the Effect of Gel-to-Gel Variation and Allow Valid Comparisons Across a Large Dataset
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Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) is widely used in microbial ecology to profile complex microbial communities over time and in response to different stimuli. However, inherent gel-to-gel variability has always been a barrier toward meaningful interpretation of DGGE profiles obtained from multiple gels. To address this problem, we developed a two-step methodology to align DGGE profiles across a large dataset. The use of appropriate inter-gel standards was of vital importance since they provided the basis for efficient within- and between-gel alignment and a reliable means to evaluate the final outcome of the process. Pretreatment of DGGE profiles by a commercially available image analysis software package (TL120 v2006, Phoretix 1D Advanced) followed by a simple interpolation step in Matlab minimized the effect of gel-to-gel variation, allowing for comparisons between large numbers of samples with a high degree of confidence. At the same time, data were obtained in the form of whole densitometric curves, rather than as band presence/absence or intensity information, and could be readily analyzed by a collection of well-established multivariate methods. This work clearly demonstrates that there is still room for significant improvements as to the way large DGGE datasets are processed and statistically interrogated.
KeywordsTerminal Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism Complex Microbial Community Image Analysis Software Package Densitometric Profile
This work was supported by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), UK and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) under the Veterinary Training and Research Initiative (VTRI).
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