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Absolute quantification of microbial taxon abundances
Props, R.; Kerckhof, F.-M.; Rubbens, P.; De Vrieze, J.; Hernandez Sanabria, E.; Waegeman, W.; Monsieurs, P.; Hammes, F.; Boon, N. (2017). Absolute quantification of microbial taxon abundances. ISME J. 11(2): 584-587. https://hdl.handle.net/10.1038/ismej.2016.117
In: The ISME Journal: Multidisciplinary Journal of Microbial Ecology. Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 1751-7362; e-ISSN 1751-7370, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Fresh water

Authors  Top 
  • De Vrieze, J., more
  • Hernandez Sanabria, E., more
  • Waegeman, W.
  • Monsieurs, P., more
  • Hammes, F.
  • Boon, N., more

Abstract
    High-throughput amplicon sequencing has become a well-established approach for microbial community profiling. Correlating shifts in the relative abundances of bacterial taxa with environmental gradients is the goal of many microbiome surveys. As the abundances generated by this technology are semi-quantitative by definition, the observed dynamics may not accurately reflect those of the actual taxon densities. We combined the sequencing approach (16S rRNA gene) with robust single-cell enumeration technologies (flow cytometry) to quantify the absolute taxon abundances. A detailed longitudinal analysis of the absolute abundances resulted in distinct abundance profiles that were less ambiguous and expressed in units that can be directly compared across studies. We further provide evidence that the enrichment of taxa (increase in relative abundance) does not necessarily relate to the outgrowth of taxa (increase in absolute abundance). Our results highlight that both relative and absolute abundances should be considered for a comprehensive biological interpretation of microbiome surveys.

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