This study aimed to evaluate the number of 16S rRNA genes in the complete genomes of the bacterial and archaeal species inhabiting the human mouth and to assess how the use of different primer pairs would affect the detection and classification of redundant amplicons and matching amplicons (MAs) from different taxa. A total of 518 oral-bacterial and 191 oral-archaeal complete genomes were downloaded from the NCBI database, and their complete 16S rRNA genes were extracted. The numbers of genes and variants per genome were calculated. Next, 39 primer pairs were used to search for matches in the genomes and obtain amplicons. For each primer, we calculated the number of gene amplicons, variants, genomes, and species detected and the percentage of coverage at the species level with no MAs (SC-NMA). The results showed that 94.09% of oral bacteria and 52.59% of oral archaea had more than one intragenomic 16S rRNA gene. From 1.29% to 46.70% of bacterial species and from 4.65% to 38.89% of archaea detected by the primers had MAs. The best primers were the following (SC-NMA; region; position for Escherichia coli [GenBank version no. J01859.1]): KP_F048-OP_R030 for bacteria (93.55%; V3 to V7; 342 to 1079), KP_F018-KP_R063 for archaea (89.63%; V3 to V9; undefined to 1506), and OP_F114-OP_R121 for both domains (92.52%; V3 to V9; 340 to 1405). In addition to 16S rRNA gene redundancy, the presence of MAs must be controlled to ensure an accurate interpretation of microbial diversity data. The SC-NMA is a more useful parameter than the conventional coverage percentage for selecting the best primer pairs. The pairs used the most in the oral microbiome literature were not among the best performers.
Keywords: 16S rRNA gene, gene variant, matching amplicon, oral microbiota, primer