e-DNA Meta-Barcoding: From NGS Raw Data to Taxonomic Profiling
In recent years, thanks to the essential support provided by the Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies, Metagenomics is enabling the direct access to the taxonomic and functional composition of mixed microbial communities living in any environmental niche, without the prerequisite to isolate or culture the single organisms. This approach has already been successfully applied for the analysis of many habitats, such as water or soil natural environments, also characterized by extreme physical and chemical conditions, food supply chains, and animal organisms, including humans. A shotgun sequencing approach can lead to investigate both organisms and genes diversity. Anyway, if the purpose is limited to explore the taxonomic complexity, an amplicon-based approach, based on PCR-targeted sequencing of selected genetic species markers, commonly named “meta-barcodes”, is desirable. Among the genomic regions most widely used for the discrimination of bacterial organisms, in some cases up to the species level, some hypervariable domains of the gene coding for the 16S rRNA occupy a prominent place.