Comparing Microsporidia-targeting primers for environmental DNA sequencing

Metabarcoding is a powerful tool to detect classical, and well-known “long-branch” Microsporidia in environmental samples. Several primer pairs were developed to target these unique microbial parasites, the majority of which remain undetected when using general metabarcoding primers. Most of these Microsporidia-targeting primer pairs amplify fragments of different length of the small subunit ribosomal RNA (SSU-rRNA) gene. However, we lack a broad comparison of the efficacy of those primers. Here, we conducted in silico PCRs with three short-read (which amplify a few-hundred base pairs) and two long-read (which amplify over a thousand base pairs) metabarcoding primer pairs on a variety of publicly available Microsporidia sensu lato SSU-rRNA gene sequences to test which primers capture most of the Microsporidia diversity. Our results indicate that the primer pairs do result in slight differences in inferred richness. Furthermore, some of the reverse primers are also able to bind to microsporidian subtaxa beyond the classical Microsporidia, which include the metchnikovellidan Amphiamblys spp., the chytridiopsid Chytridiopsis typographi and the “short-branch” microsporidian Mitosporidium daphniae.


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