2022 journal article

Assessing the lysis of diverse pollen from bulk environmental samples for DNA metabarcoding

Metabarcoding and Metagenomics.

By: M. Moore, M. Scheible, J. Robertson & K. Meiklejohn*

Source: ORCID
Added: September 24, 2022

Pollen is ubiquitous year-round in bulk environmental samples and can provide useful information on previous and current plant communities. Characterization of pollen has traditionally been completed based on morphology, requiring significant time and expertise. DNA metabarcoding is a promising approach for characterizing pollen from bulk environmental samples, but accuracy hinges on successful lysis of pollen grains to free template DNA. In this study, we assessed the lysis of morphologically and taxonomically diverse pollen from one of the most common bulk environmental sample types for DNA metabarcoding, surface soil. To achieve this, a four species artificial pollen mixture was spiked into surface soils collected from Colorado, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, and subsequently subjected to DNA extraction using both the PowerSoil and PowerSoil Pro Kits (Qiagen) with a heated incubation (either 65 °C or 90 °C). Amplification and Illumina sequencing of the internal transcribed spacer subunit 2 ( ITS2 ) was completed in duplicate for each sample (total n, 76), and the resulting sequencing reads taxonomically identified using GenBank. The PowerSoil Pro Kit statistically outperformed the PowerSoil Kit for total DNA yield. When using either kit, incubation temperature (65 °C or 90 °C) used had no impact on the recovery of DNA, plant amplicon sequence variants (ASVs), or total plant ITS2 reads. This study highlighted that lysis of pollen in bulk environmental samples is feasible using commercially available kits, and downstream DNA metabarcoding can be used to accurately characterize pollen DNA from such sample types.