Application of sequence-dependent electrophoresis fingerprinting in exploring biodiversity and population dynamics of human intestinal microbiota: what can be revealed?

Interdiscip Perspect Infect Dis. 2008;2008:597603. doi: 10.1155/2008/597603. Epub 2008 Dec 14.


Sequence-dependent electrophoresis (SDE) fingerprinting techniques such as denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) have become commonplace in the field of molecular microbial ecology. The success of the SDE technology lays in the fact that it allows visualization of the predominant members of complex microbial ecosystems independent of their culturability and without prior knowledge on the complexity and diversity of the ecosystem. Mainly using the prokaryotic 16S rRNA gene as PCR amplification target, SDE-based community fingerprinting turned into one of the leading molecular tools to unravel the diversity and population dynamics of human intestinal microbiota. The first part of this review covers the methodological concept of SDE fingerprinting and the technical hurdles for analyzing intestinal samples. Subsequently, the current state-of-the-art of DGGE and related techniques to analyze human intestinal microbiota from healthy individuals and from patients with intestinal disorders is surveyed. In addition, the applicability of SDE analysis to monitor intestinal population changes upon nutritional or therapeutic interventions is critically evaluated.