The Molecular Information About Deadwood Bacteriomes Partly Depends on the Targeted Environmental DNA

Maraike Probst, Judith Ascher-Jenull, Heribert Insam, María Gómez-Brandón

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Microbiome studies mostly rely on total DNA extracts obtained directly from environmental samples. The total DNA consists of both intra- and extracellular DNA, which differ in terms of their ecological interpretation. In the present study, we have investigated for the first time the differences among the three DNA types using microbiome sequencing of Picea abies deadwood logs (Hunter decay classes I, III, and V). While the bacterial compositions of all DNA types were comparable in terms of more abundant organisms and mainly depended on the decay class, we found substantial differences between DNA types with regard to less abundant amplicon sequence variants (ASVs). The analysis of the sequentially extracted intra- and extracellular DNA fraction, respectively, increased the ecological depth of analysis compared to the directly extracted total DNA pool. Both DNA fractions were comparable in proportions and the extracellular DNA appeared to persist in the P. abies deadwood logs, thereby causing its masking effect. Indeed, the extracellular DNA masked the compositional dynamics of intact cells in the total DNA pool. Our results provide evidence that the choice of DNA type for analysis might benefit a study’s answer to its respective ecological question. In the deadwood environment researched here, the differential analysis of the DNA types underlined the relevance of Burkholderiales, Rhizobiales and other taxa for P. abies deadwood decomposition and revealed that the role of Acidobacteriota under this scenario might be underestimated, especially compared to Actinobacteriota.

Original languageEnglish
Article number640386
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
StatePublished - 27 Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Picea abies
  • deadwood
  • environmental DNA
  • extracellular DNA
  • intracellular DNA
  • microbial communities
  • microbiome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Microbiology


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