Microbiome 8(1) , 21 (Feb 15 2020)
BACKGROUND: Metagenomics and single cell genomics provide a window into the genetic repertoire of yet uncultivated microorganisms, but both methods are usually taxonomically untargeted. The combination of fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) has the potential to enrich taxonomically well-defined clades for genomic analyses. METHODS: Cells hybridized with a taxon-specific FISH probe are enriched based on their fluorescence signal via flow cytometric cell sorting. A recently developed FISH procedure, the hybridization chain reaction (HCR)-FISH, provides the high signal intensities required for flow cytometric sorting while maintaining the integrity of the cellular DNA for subsequent genome sequencing. Sorted cells are subjected to shotgun sequencing, resulting in targeted metagenomes of low diversity. RESULTS: Pure cultures of different taxonomic groups were used to (1) adapt and optimize the HCR-FISH protocol and (2) assess the effects of various cell fixation methods on both the signal intensity for cell sorting and the quality of subsequent genome amplification and sequencing. Best results were obtained for ethanol-fixed cells in terms of both HCR-FISH signal intensity and genome assembly quality. Our newly developed pipeline was successfully applied to a marine plankton sample from the North Sea yielding good quality metagenome assembled genomes from a yet uncultivated flavobacterial clade. CONCLUSIONS: With the developed pipeline, targeted metagenomes at various taxonomic levels can be efficiently retrieved from environmental samples. The resulting metagenome assembled genomes allow for the description of yet uncharacterized microbial clades. Video abstract.