Nematodes are extremely diverse and numbers of species are predicted to be more than a million. Studies on nematode diversity are difficult and laborious using classical methods and therefore high-throughput sequencing is an attractive alternative. Primers that have been used in previous sequence-based studies are not nematode specific but also amplify other groups of organisms such as fungi and plantae, and thus require a nematode enrichment step that may introduce biases.
In this study an amplification strategy which selectively amplifies a fragment of the SSU from nematodes without the need for enrichment was developed. Using this strategy on DNA templates from a set of 22 agricultural soils, we obtained 64.4% sequences of nematode origin in total, whereas the remaining sequences were almost entirely from other metazoans. The nematode sequences were derived from a broad taxonomic range and most sequences were from nematode taxa that have previously been found to be abundant in soil such as Tylenchida, Rhabditida, Dorylaimida, Triplonchida and Araeolaimida.
Our amplification and sequencing strategy for assessing nematode diversity was able to collect a broad diversity without prior nematode enrichment and thus the method will be highly valuable in ecological studies of nematodes.