Comparison of targeted metagenomics and IS-Pro methods for analysing the lung microbiome

T.G. Mahomed, R.P.H. Peters, G.H.J. Pretorius, A.G. Mahomed, V. Ueckermann, M.M. Kock, M.M. Ehlers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Targeted metagenomics and IS-Pro method are two of the many methods that have been used to study the microbiome. The two methods target different regions of the 16 S rRNA gene. The aim of this study was to compare targeted metagenomics and IS-Pro methods for the ability to discern the microbial composition of the lung microbiome of COPD patients.Methods: Spontaneously expectorated sputum specimens were collected from COPD patients. Bacterial DNA was extracted and used for targeted metagenomics and IS-Pro method. The analysis was performed using QIIME2 (targeted metagenomics) and IS-Pro software (IS-Pro method). Additionally, a laboratory cost per isolate and time analysis was performed for each method.Results: Statistically significant differences were observed in alpha diversity when targeted metagenomics and IS-Pro methods' data were compared using the Shannon diversity measure (p-value = 0.0006) but not with the Simpson diversity measure (p-value = 0.84). Distinct clusters with no overlap between the two technologies were observed for beta diversity. Targeted metagenomics had a lower relative abundance of phyla, such as the Proteobacteria, and higher relative abundance of phyla, such as Firmicutes when compared to the IS-Pro method. Haemophilus, Prevotella and Streptococcus were most prevalent genera across both methods. Targeted metagenomics classified 23 % (144/631) of OTUs to a species level, whereas IS-Pro method classified 86 % (55/64) of OTUs to a species level. However, unclassified OTUs accounted for a higher relative abundance when using the IS-Pro method (35 %) compared to targeted metagenomics (5 %). The two methods performed comparably in terms of cost and time; however, the IS-Pro method was more user-friendly.Conclusions: It is essential to understand the value of different methods for characterisation of the microbiome. Targeted metagenomics and IS-Pro methods showed differences in ability in identifying and characterising OTUs, diversity and microbial composition of the lung microbiome. The IS-Pro method might miss relevant species and could inflate the abundance of Proteobacteria. However, the IS-Pro kit identified most of the important lung pathogens, such as Burkholderia and Pseudomonas and may work in a more diagnostics-orientated setting. Both methods were comparable in terms of cost and time; however, the IS-Pro method was easier to use.
Original languageEnglish
Article number228
Number of pages13
JournalBMC Microbiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2021



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