Serial analysis of ribosomal sequence tags (SARST) is a recently developed technology that can generate large 16S rRNA gene (rrs) sequence data sets from microbiomes, but there are numerous enzymatic and purification steps required to construct the ribosomal sequence tag (RST) clone libraries. We report here an improved SARST method, which still targets the V1 hypervariable region of rrs genes, but reduces the number of enzymes, oligonucleotides, reagents, and technical steps needed to produce the RST clone libraries. The new method, hereafter referred to as SARST-V1, was used to examine the eubacterial diversity present in community DNA recovered from the microbiome resident in the ovine rumen. The 190 sequenced clones contained 1055 RSTs and no less than 236 unique phylotypes (based on > or = 95% sequence identity) that were assigned to eight different eubacterial phyla. Rarefaction and monomolecular curve analyses predicted that the complete RST clone library contains 99% of the 353 unique phylotypes predicted to exist in this microbiome. When compared with ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis (RISA) of the same community DNA sample, as well as a compilation of nine previously published conventional rrs clone libraries prepared from the same type of samples, the RST clone library provided a more comprehensive characterization of the eubacterial diversity present in rumen microbiomes. As such, SARST-V1 should be a useful tool applicable to comprehensive examination of diversity and composition in microbiomes and offers an affordable, sequence-based method for diversity analysis.