Comparison of normalization methods for construction of large, multiplex amplicon pools for next-generation sequencing

J. Kirk Harris, Jason W. Sahl, Todd A. Castoe, Brandie D. Wagner, David D. Pollock, John R. Spear

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Constructing mixtures of tagged or bar-coded DNAs for sequencing is an important requirement for the efficient use of next-generation sequencers in applications where limited sequence data are required per sample. There are many applications in which next-generation sequencing can be used effectively to sequence large mixed samples; an example is the characterization of microbial communities where ≤1,000 sequences per samples are adequate to address research questions. Thus, it is possible to examine hundreds to thousands of samples per run on massively parallel next-generation sequencers. However, the cost savings for efficient utilization of sequence capacity is realized only if the production and management costs associated with construction of multiplex pools are also scalable. One critical step in multiplex pool construction is the normalization process, whereby equimolar amounts of each amplicon are mixed. Here we compare three approaches (spectroscopy, size-restricted spectroscopy, and quantitative binding) for normalization of large, multiplex amplicon pools for performance and efficiency. We found that the quantitative binding approach was superior and represents an efficient scalable process for construction of very large, multiplex pools with hundreds and perhaps thousands of individual amplicons included. We demonstrate the increased sequence diversity identified with higher throughput. Massively parallel sequencing can dramatically accelerate microbial ecology studies by allowing appropriate replication of sequence acquisition to account for temporal and spatial variations. Further, population studies to examine genetic variation, which require even lower levels of sequencing, should be possible where thousands of individual bar-coded amplicons are examined in parallel.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3863-3868
Number of pages6
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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