Ellegaard KM, Klasson L, Andersson SG
PLoS ONE 8 (11) e82319 [2013-11-27; online 2013-11-27]
The multiple displacement amplification method has revolutionized genomic studies of uncultured bacteria, where the extraction of pure DNA in sufficient quantity for next-generation sequencing is challenging. However, the method is problematic in that it amplifies the target DNA unevenly, induces the formation of chimeric reads and also amplifies contaminating DNA. Here, we have tested the reproducibility of the multiple displacement amplification method using serial dilutions of extracted genomic DNA and intact cells from the cultured endosymbiont Bartonella australis. The amplified DNA was sequenced with the Illumina sequencing technology, and the results were compared to sequence data obtained from unamplified DNA in this study as well as from a previously published genome project. We show that artifacts such as the extent of the amplification bias, the percentage of chimeric reads and the relative fraction of contaminating DNA increase dramatically for the smallest amounts of template DNA. The pattern of read coverage was reproducibly obtained for samples with higher amounts of template DNA, suggesting that the bias is non-random and genome-specific. A re-analysis of previously published sequence data obtained after amplification from clonal endosymbiont populations confirmed these predictions. We conclude that many of the artifacts associated with the use of the multiple displacement amplification method can be alleviated or much reduced by using multiple cells as the template for the amplification. These findings should be particularly useful for researchers studying the genomes of endosymbionts and other uncultured bacteria, for which a small clonal population of cells can be isolated.