Critical evaluation of faecal microbiome preservation using metagenomic analysis
Pribyl AL., Parks DH., Angel NZ., Boyd JA., Hasson AG., Fang L., MacDonald SL., Wills BA., Wood DLA., Krause L., Tyson GW., Hugenholtz P.
AbstractThe ability to preserve microbial communities in faecal samples is essential as increasing numbers of studies seek to use the gut microbiome to identify biomarkers of disease. Here we use shotgun metagenomics to rigorously evaluate the technical and compositional reproducibility of five room temperature (RT) microbial stabilisation methods compared to the best practice of flash-freezing. These methods included RNALater, OMNIGene-GUT, a dry BBL swab, LifeGuard, and a novel method for preserving faecal samples, a Copan FLOQSwab in an active drying tube (FLOQSwab-ADT). Each method was assessed using six replicate faecal samples from five participants, totalling 180 samples. The FLOQSwab-ADT performed best for both technical and compositional reproducibility, followed by RNAlater and OMNIgene-GUT. LifeGuard and the BBL swab had unpredictable outgrowth of Escherichia species in at least one replicate from each participant. We further evaluated the FLOQSwab-ADT in an additional 239 samples across 10 individuals after storage at −20 °C, RT, and 50 °C for four weeks compared to fresh controls. The FLOQSwab-ADT maintained its performance across all temperatures, indicating this method is an excellent alternative to existing RT stabilisation methods.