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PCR Primers to Study the Diversity of Expressed Fungal Genes Encoding Lignocellulolytic Enzymes in Soils Using High-Throughput Sequencing

Abstract : Plant biomass degradation in soil is one of the key steps of carbon cycling in terrestrial ecosystems. Fungal saprotrophic communities play an essential role in this process by producing hydrolytic enzymes active on the main components of plant organic matter. Open questions in this field regard the diversity of the species involved, the major biochemical pathways implicated and how these are affected by external factors such as litter quality or climate changes. This can be tackled by environmental genomic approaches involving the systematic sequencing of key enzyme-coding gene families using soil-extracted RNA as material. Such an approach necessitates the design and evaluation of gene family-specific PCR primers producing sequence fragments compatible with high-throughput sequencing approaches. In the present study, we developed and evaluated PCR primers for the specific amplification of fungal CAZy Glycoside Hydrolase gene families GH5 (subfamily 5) and GH11 encoding endo-β-1,4-glucanases and endo-β-1,4-xylanases respectively as well as Basidiomycota class II peroxidases, corresponding to the CAZy Auxiliary Activity family 2 (AA2), active on lignin. These primers were experimentally validated using DNA extracted from a wide range of Ascomycota and Basidiomycota species including 27 with sequenced genomes. Along with the published primers for Glycoside Hydrolase GH7 encoding enzymes active on cellulose, the newly design primers were shown to be compatible with the Illumina MiSeq sequencing technology. Sequences obtained from RNA extracted from beech or spruce forest soils showed a high diversity and were uniformly distributed in gene trees featuring the global diversity of these gene families. This high-throughput sequencing approach using several degenerate primers constitutes a robust method, which allows the simultaneous characterization of the diversity of different fungal transcripts involved in plant organic matter degradation and may lead to the discovery of complex patterns in gene expression of soil fungal communities.
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Florian Barbi, Claudia Bragalini, Laurent Vallon, Elsa Prudent, Audrey Dubost, et al.. PCR Primers to Study the Diversity of Expressed Fungal Genes Encoding Lignocellulolytic Enzymes in Soils Using High-Throughput Sequencing. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2014, - (12), pp.e116264. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0116264⟩. ⟨hal-02487467⟩

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