Amplification of Femtograms of Bacterial DNA within 3 h Using a Digital Microfluidics Platform for MinION Sequencing

Yuguang Liu, Patricio Jeraldo, Helena Mendes-Soares, Thao Masters, Abigail E. Asangba, Heidi Nelson, Robin Patel, Nicholas Chia, Marina Walther-Antonio

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Whole genome sequencing is emerging as a promising tool for the untargeted detection of a broad range of microbial species for diagnosis and analysis. However, it is logistically challenging to perform the multistep process from sample preparation to DNA amplification to sequencing and analysis within a short turnaround time. To address this challenge, we developed a digital microfluidic device for rapid whole genome amplification of low-abundance bacterial DNA and compared results with conventional in-tube DNA amplification. In this work, we chose Corynebacterium glutamicum DNA as a bacterial target for method development and optimization, as it is not a common contaminant. Sequencing was performed in a hand-held Oxford Nanopore Technologies MinION sequencer. Our results show that using an in-tube amplification approach, at least 1 pg starting DNA is needed to reach the amount required for successful sequencing within 2 h. While using a digital microfluidic device, it is possible to amplify as low as 10 fg of C. glutamicum DNA (equivalent to the amount of DNA within a single bacterial cell) within 2 h and to identify the target bacterium within 30 min of MinION sequencing - 100× lower than the detection limit of an in-tube amplification approach. We demonstrate the detection of C. glutamicum DNA in a mock community DNA sample and characterize the limit of bacterial detection in the presence of human cells. This approach can be used to identify microbes with minute amounts of genetic material in samples depleted of human cells within 3 h.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)25642-25651
    Number of pages10
    JournalACS Omega
    Issue number39
    StatePublished - Oct 5 2021

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Chemistry
    • General Chemical Engineering


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