Ionic liquid-based reagents improve the stability of midterm fecal sample storage

J Microbiol Methods. 2017 Aug;139:68-73. doi: 10.1016/j.mimet.2017.05.005. Epub 2017 May 13.


Fecal samples are widely used in metagenomic research, which aims to elucidate the relationship between human health and the intestinal microbiota. However, the best conditions for stable and reliable storage and transport of these samples at room temperature are still unknown, and whether samples stored at room temperature for several days will maintain their microbiota composition is still unknown. Here, we established and tested a preservation method using reagents containing imidazolium- or pyridinium-based ionic liquids. We stored human fecal samples in these reagents for up to 7 days at different temperatures. Subsequently, all samples were sequenced and compared with fresh samples and/or samples treated under other conditions. The 16S rRNA sequencing results suggested that ionic liquid-based reagents could stabilize the composition of the microbiota in fecal samples during a 7-day storage period, particularly when stored at room temperature. Thus, this method may have implications in the storage of fecal samples for metagenomic research.

Keywords: Fecal; Ionic liquid; Metagenomics; Storage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Feces / chemistry
  • Feces / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Ionic Liquids / chemistry*
  • Metagenomics / methods
  • Microbiota* / genetics
  • Preservation, Biological / methods*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Specimen Handling / methods*
  • Temperature
  • Time Factors


  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Ionic Liquids
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S