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Targeted Genome Capture for Endosymbionts

Scientists at Vanderbilt University have found a way to enrich for and sequence genomes of bacteria that are difficult to culture or purify because they live inside hosts with complex microbial communities. The study, reported in the latest issue of the journal Genome Biology and Evolution, reports that targeted genome capture can obviate these pitfalls for rapid enrichment and sequencing of microorganisms that are difficult to isolate or culture.

Genomic analyses of unculturable bacteria often rely on isolations from sensitive host tissue collections, whole genome amplifications that subject the template DNA to artificial chimeras, or are not possible. By array-capturing the bacterial genome, rather than the organism itself, 'targeted genome capture' was shown to be highly efficient for enriching and sequencing Wolbachia endosymbionts from a heterogeneous mixture of DNA from an invertebrate and its viruses and various bacterial species. Since this method relies on sorting DNA and not cells or tissues, it could be applied to samples that have been fixed or frozen. This method may be widely applied to other bacterial and viral symbiont genomes, including human pathogens that exist in low titers. Using the method, the authors demonstrated the first large-scale bacteriophage transfer in an obligate intracellular bacterium.

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