Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Optimizing Droplet Digital PCR for Environmental Samples

Version 1 : Received: 10 April 2021 / Approved: 12 April 2021 / Online: 12 April 2021 (12:48:11 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Kokkoris, V.; Vukicevich, E.; Richards, A.; Thomsen, C.; Hart, M.M. Challenges Using Droplet Digital PCR for Environmental Samples. Appl. Microbiol. 2021, 1, 74-88. Kokkoris, V.; Vukicevich, E.; Richards, A.; Thomsen, C.; Hart, M.M. Challenges Using Droplet Digital PCR for Environmental Samples. Appl. Microbiol. 2021, 1, 74-88.

Journal reference: Appl. Microbiol. 2021, 1, 7
DOI: 10.3390/applmicrobiol1010007

Abstract

Droplet digital polymerase chain reaction (ddPCR) is a method used to detect and quantify nu-cleic acids even when present in exceptionally low numbers. While it has proven to be valuable for clinical studies, it has failed to be widely adopted for environmental and applied studies. Due to the complexity of the chemical and biological composition of environmental samples, protocols tailored to clinical studies are not appropriate, and results are difficult to interpret. We used en-vironmental DNA samples originating from field studies to determine a protocol for environ-mental samples. Samples included field soils which had been inoculated with the soil fungus Rhizophagus irregularis (environmental positive control), field soils that had not been inoculat-ed and the targeted fungus was not naturally present (environmental negative control), and root samples from both field categories. To control for the effect of soil inhibitors, we also in-cluded DNA samples of an organismal control extracted from pure fungal spores (organismal positive control). Finally, we included a no-template control consisting only of the PCR reaction reagents and nuclease free water instead of template DNA. Using original data, we examined which factors contribute to poor resolution in root and soil samples and propose best practises to ensure accuracy and repeatability. Furthermore, we evaluated manual and automatic threshold determination methods and we propose a novel protocol based on multiple controls that is more appropriate for environmental samples.

Subject Areas

ddPCR, droplet digital PCR, environmental samples, environmental DNA, soil microbiology

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