Development of an extensive set of 16S rDNA-targeted primers for quantification of pathogenic and indigenous bacteria in faecal samples by real-time PCR


Airi Palva, PO Box 66, 00014 Helsinki University, Helsinki, Finland (e-mail:


Aims:  The microbiota of the human intestinal tract constitutes a complex ecosystem. We report the design and optimization of an extensive set of 16S rDNA-targeted species- and group-specific primers for more accurate quantification of bacteria from faecal samples with real-time PCR.

Methods and Results:  A linear range of quantification between 0·1–10 pg and 10 ng of specific target genome was obtained, which corresponds to detection of ca 30–4500 to 1·9 × 106–6·0 × 106 target bacterial genomes. Functionality of the assays was confirmed by quantification of target bacterial DNA from faecal DNA preparations of healthy volunteers and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients. Additionally, spiking of faecal preparations with Helicobacter pylori, Clostridium difficile or Campylobacter jejuni was used to confirm the accurate and sensitive quantification.

Conclusions:  Real-time PCR is a very sensitive and precise technique for an extensive quantitative evaluation of gut microbiota and is feasible for detection of human pathogens from faecal samples.

Significance and Impact of the Study:  To design and optimize an extensive set of real-time PCR assays targeting a large group of predominant and pathogenic GI microbial species for further use in updating the current knowledge of the putative role of gut microbiota in health and disease.