Profiling of the metabolically active community from a production-scale biogas plant by means of high-throughput metatranscriptome sequencing

Computational Genomics, Center for Biotechnology-CeBiTec, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany.
Journal of Biotechnology (Impact Factor: 2.88). 02/2012; 158(4):248-58. DOI: 10.1016/j.jbiotec.2012.01.020
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Structural composition and gene content of a biogas-producing microbial community from a production-scale biogas plant fed with renewable primary products was recently analyzed by means of a metagenome sequencing approach. To determine the transcriptionally active part of the same biogas community and to identify key transcripts for the biogas production process, the metatranscriptome of the microorganisms was sequenced for the first time. The metatranscriptome sequence dataset generated on the Genome Sequencer FLX platform is represented by 484,920 sequence reads. Taxonomic profiling of the active part of the community by classification of 16S ribosomal sequence tags revealed that members of the Euryarchaeota and Firmicutes account for the dominant phyla. Only smaller fractions of the 16S ribosomal sequence tags were assigned to the phyla Bacteroidetes, Actinobacteria and Synergistetes. Among the mRNA-derived sequence tags from the metatranscriptome dataset, transcripts encoding enzymes involved in substrate hydrolysis, acidogenesis, acetate formation and methanogenesis could be identified. Transcripts for enzymes functioning in methanogenesis are among the most abundant mRNA tags indicating that the corresponding pathway is very active in the methanogenic sub-community. As a frame of reference for evaluation of metatranscriptome sequence data, the 16S rDNA-based taxonomic profile of the community was analyzed by means of high-throughput 16S rDNA amplicon sequencing. Processing of the obtained amplicon reads resulted in 18,598 high-quality 16S rDNA sequences covering the V3-V4 hypervariable region of the 16S rRNA gene. Comparison of the taxonomic profiles deduced from 16S rDNA amplicon sequences and the metatranscriptome dataset indicates a high transcriptional activity of archaeal species. Overall, it was shown that the most abundant species dominating the community also contributed the majority of the transcripts. In the future, key transcripts for the biogas production process will provide valuable markers for evaluation of the performance of biogas-producing microbial communities with the objective to optimize the biotechnology of this process.

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