An efficient method for high molecular weight bacterial DNA extraction suitable for shotgun metagenomics from skin swabs

Iliana R. Serghiou, Dave Baker, Rhiannon Evans, Matthew J. Dalby, Raymond Kiu, Eleftheria Trampari, Sarah Phillips, Rachel Watt, Thomas Atkinson, Barry Murphy, Lindsay J. Hall, Mark A. Webber

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The human skin microbiome represents a variety of complex microbial ecosystems that play a key role in host health. Molecular methods to study these communities have been developed but have been largely limited to low-throughput quantification and short amplicon-based sequencing, providing limited functional information about the communities present. Shotgun metagenomic sequencing has emerged as a preferred method for microbiome studies as it provides more comprehensive information about the species/strains present in a niche and the genes they encode. However, the relatively low bacterial biomass of skin, in comparison to other areas such as the gut microbiome, makes obtaining sufficient DNA for shotgun metagenomic sequencing challenging. Here we describe an optimised high-throughput method for extraction of high molecular weight DNA suitable for shotgun metagenomic sequencing. We validated the performance of the extraction method, and analysis pipeline on skin swabs collected from both adults and babies. The pipeline effectively characterised the bacterial skin microbiota with a cost and throughput suitable for larger longitudinal sets of samples. Application of this method will allow greater insights into community compositions and functional capabilities of the skin microbiome.
Original languageEnglish
Article number001058
JournalMicrobial Genomics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2023


  • Long and short read sequencing
  • Microbial abundance
  • Skin microbiome

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