Enrichment of gut microbiome strains for cultivation-free genome sequencing using droplet microfluidics.
We report a droplet microfluidic method to target and sort individual cells directly from complex microbiome samples and to prepare these cells for bulk whole-genome sequencing without cultivation. We characterize this approach by recovering bacteria spiked into human stool samples at a ratio as low as 1:250 and by successfully enriching endogenous to the level required for de novo assembly of high-quality genomes. Although microbiome strains are increasingly demanded for biomedical applications, a vast majority of species and strains are uncultivated and without reference genomes. We address this shortcoming by encapsulating complex microbiome samples directly into microfluidic droplets and amplifying a target-specific genomic fragment using a custom molecular TaqMan probe. We separate those positive droplets by droplet sorting, selectively enriching single target strain cells. Finally, we present a protocol to purify the genomic DNA while specifically removing amplicons and cell debris for high-quality genome sequencing.