PriSeT: Efficient De Novo Primer Discovery

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Marie HoffmannK. Reinert


Motivation: DNA metabarcoding is a commonly applied technique used to infer the species composition of environmental samples. These samples can comprise hundreds of organisms that can be closely or very distantly related in the taxonomic tree of life. DNA metabarcoding combines polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and next-generation sequencing (NGS), whereby a short, homologous sequence of DNA is amplified and sequenced from all members of the community. Sequences are then taxonomically identified based on their match to a reference database. Ideally, each species of interest would have a unique DNA barcode. This short, variable sequence needs to be flanked by relatively conserved regions that can be used as primer binding sites. Appropriate PCR primer pairs would match to a broad evolutionary range of taxa, such that we only need a few to achieve high taxonomic coverage. At the same time however, the DNA barcodes between primer pairs should be different to allow us to distinguish between species to improve resolution. This poses an interesting optimization problem. More specifically: Given a set of references [R] = {[R]1, [R]2, ..., [R]m}, the problem is to find a primer set P balancing both: high taxonomic coverage and high resol...Continue Reading

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