Review and re-analysis of domain-specific 16S primers

J Microbiol Methods. 2003 Dec;55(3):541-55. doi: 10.1016/j.mimet.2003.08.009.


The Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) has facilitated the detection of unculturable microorganisms in virtually any environmental source and has thus been used extensively in the assessment of environmental microbial diversity. This technique relies on the assumption that the gene sequences present in the environment are complementary to the "universal" primers used in their amplification. The recent discovery of new taxa with 16S rDNA sequences not complementary to standard universal primers suggests that current 16S rDNA libraries are not representative of true prokaryotic biodiversity. Here we re-assess the specificity of commonly used 16S rRNA gene primers and present these data in tabular form designed as a tool to aid simple analysis, selection and implementation. In addition, we present two new primer pairs specifically designed for effective "universal" Archaeal 16S rDNA sequence amplification. These primers are found to amplify sequences from Crenarchaeote and Euryarchaeote type strains and environmental DNA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Archaea / classification
  • Archaea / genetics*
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Primers / chemistry
  • DNA Primers / genetics*
  • DNA, Archaeal / chemistry
  • DNA, Archaeal / genetics
  • DNA, Bacterial / chemistry
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / chemistry*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics*


  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Archaeal
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S