Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Using metagenomic methods to detect organismal contaminants in microbial materials.



Nathanael D. Olson, Justin M. Zook, Jayne B. Morrow, Nancy J. Lin


High sensitivity methods as next generation sequencing and PCR are adversely impacted by organismal and DNA contaminants. Current methods for detecting contaminants in microbial materials (genomic DNA and cultures) are not sensitive enough and require either a known or culturable contaminant. There- fore, high sensitivity methods not requiring a priori assumptions about the contaminant are needed. We demonstrate the use of whole genome sequencing (WGS) and a metagenomic taxonomic classifica- tion algorithm for assessing the organismal purity of a microbial material. Using this proposed method we characterized the types of false positive contaminants reported and the dependence of detectable contaminant concentration on material and contaminant genome using simulated WGS data. Using the proposed method to characterize microbial material purity will help to ensure that the materials used to validate pathogen detection assays, generate genome assemblies for database submission, and bench- marking sequencing methods are free of contaminants adversely impacting measurement results.
PLoS One


Genomic Purity, Whole Genome Sequencing, Bioinformatics, Biodetection, Microbial Material, Reference Material


Olson, N. , Zook, J. , Morrow, J. and Lin, N. (2017), Using metagenomic methods to detect organismal contaminants in microbial materials., PLoS One, [online], (Accessed April 14, 2024)
Created September 12, 2017, Updated November 10, 2018