High-throughput studies of microbial communities suggest that Archaea are a widespread component of microbial diversity in various ecosystems. However, proper quantification of archaeal diversity and community ecology remains limited, as sequence coverage of Archaea is usually low owing to the inability of available prokaryotic primers to efficiently amplify archaeal compared to bacterial rRNA genes. To improve identification and quantification of Archaea, we designed and validated the utility of several primer pairs to efficiently amplify archaeal 16S rRNA genes based on up-to-date reference genes. We demonstrate that several of these primer pairs amplify phylogenetically diverse Archaea with high sequencing coverage, outperforming commonly used primers. Based on comparing the resulting long 16S rRNA gene fragments with public databases from all habitats, we found several novel family- to phylum-level archaeal taxa from topsoil and surface water. Our results suggest that archaeal diversity has been largely overlooked due to the limitations of available primers, and that improved primer pairs enable to estimate archaeal diversity more accurately.
© 2018 The Authors. Environmental Microbiology Reports published by Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.