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Microfluidic-based mini-metagenomics enables discovery of novel microbial lineages from complex environmental samples

  • Author(s): Yu, FB
  • Blainey, PC
  • Schulz, F
  • Woyke, T
  • Horowitz, MA
  • Quake, SR
  • et al.
Abstract

© Yu et al. Metagenomics and single-cell genomics have enabled genome discovery from unknown branches of life. However, extracting novel genomes from complex mixtures of metagenomic data can still be challenging and represents an ill-posed problem which is generally approached with ad hoc methods. Here we present a microfluidic-based mini-metagenomic method which offers a statistically rigorous approach to extract novel microbial genomes while preserving single-cell resolution. We used this approach to analyze two hot spring samples from Yellowstone National Park and extracted 29 new genomes, including three deeply branching lineages. The single-cell resolution enabled accurate quantification of genome function and abundance, down to 1% in relative abundance. Our analyses of genome level SNP distributions also revealed low to moderate environmental selection. The scale, resolution, and statistical power of microfluidic-based mini-metagenomics make it a powerful tool to dissect the genomic structure of microbial communities while effectively preserving the fundamental unit of biology, the single cell.

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