Introduction and purpose: Propidium monoazide (PMA)-pretreatment has increasingly been applied to remove the bias from dead or damaged cell artefacts, which could impact the microbiota analysis by high-throughput sequencing. Our study aimed to determine whether a PMA-pretreatment coupled with high-throughput sequencing analysis provides a different picture of the airway mycobiome and bacteriome.
Results and discussion: We compared deep-sequencing data of mycobiota and microbiota of 15 sputum samples from 5 cystic fibrosis (CF) patients with and without prior PMA-treatment of the DNA-extracts. PMA-pretreatment had no significant effect on the entire and abundant bacterial community (genera expressed as operational taxonomic units (OTUs) with a relative abundance greater than or equal to 1%), but caused a significant difference in the intermediate community (less than 1%) when analyzing the alpha biodiversity Simpson index (p = 0.03). Regarding PMA impact on the airway mycobiota evaluated for the first time here; no significant differences in alpha diversity indexes between PMA-treated and untreated samples were observed. Regarding beta diversity analysis, the intermediate communities also differed more dramatically than the total and abundant ones when studying both mycobiome and bacteriome. Our results showed that only the intermediate (or low abundance) population diversity is impacted by PMA-treatment, and therefore that abundant taxa are mostly viable during acute exacerbation in CF. Given such a cumbersome protocol (PMA-pretreatment coupled with high-throughput sequencing), we discuss its potential interest within the follow-up of CF patients. Further studies using PMA-pretreatment are warranted to improve our "omic" knowledge of the CF airways.