The Hydrogenase Chip: a tiling oligonucleotide DNA microarray technique for characterizing hydrogen-producing and -consuming microbes in microbial communities

ISME J. 2012 Apr;6(4):814-26. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2011.136. Epub 2011 Oct 13.


We developed a broad-ranging method for identifying key hydrogen-producing and consuming microorganisms through analysis of hydrogenase gene content and expression in complex anaerobic microbial communities. The method is based on a tiling hydrogenase gene oligonucleotide DNA microarray (Hydrogenase Chip), which implements a high number of probes per gene by tiling probe sequences across genes of interest at 1.67 × -2 × coverage. This design favors the avoidance of false positive gene identification in samples of DNA or RNA extracted from complex microbial communities. We applied this technique to interrogate interspecies hydrogen transfer in complex communities in (i) lab-scale reductive dehalogenating microcosms enabling us to delineate key H(2)-consuming microorganisms, and (ii) hydrogen-generating microbial mats where we found evidence for significant H(2) production by cyanobacteria. Independent quantitative PCR analysis on selected hydrogenase genes showed that this Hydrogenase Chip technique is semiquantitative. We also determined that as microbial community complexity increases, specificity must be traded for sensitivity in analyzing data from tiling DNA microarrays.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification*
  • Bacteria / enzymology
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • DNA / genetics
  • Ecology
  • Hydrogenase / genetics*
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis / methods*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Soil Microbiology*


  • DNA
  • Hydrogenase