High Interlaboratory Reproducibility and Accuracy of Next-Generation-Sequencing- Based Bacterial Genotyping in a Ring Trial

Alexander Mellmann*, Paal Skytt Andersen, Stefan Bletz, Alexander W. Friedrich, Thomas A. Kohl, Berit Lilje, Stefan Niemann, Karola Prior, John W. Rossen, Dag Harmsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Today, next-generation whole-genome sequencing (WGS) is increasingly used to determine the genetic relationships of bacteria on a nearly whole-genome level for infection control purposes and molecular surveillance. Here, we conducted a multicenter ring trial comprising five laboratories to determine the reproducibility and accuracy of WGS-based typing. The participating laboratories sequenced 20 blind-coded Staphylococcus aureus DNA samples using 250-bp paired-end chemistry for library preparation in a single sequencing run on an Illumina MiSeq sequencer. The run acceptance criteria were sequencing outputs >5.6 Gb and Q30 read quality scores of > 75%. Subsequently, spa typing, multilocus sequence typing (MLST), ribosomal MLST, and core genome MLST (cgMLST) were performed by the participants. Moreover, discrepancies in cgMLST target sequences in comparisons with the included and also published sequence of the quality control strain ATCC 25923 were resolved using Sanger sequencing. All five laboratories fulfilled the run acceptance criteria in a single sequencing run without any repetition. Of the 400 total possible typing results, 394 of the reported spa types, sequence types (STs), ribosomal STs (rSTs), and cgMLST cluster types were correct and identical among all laboratories; only six typing results were missing. An analysis of cgMLST allelic profiles corroborated this high reproducibility; only 3 of 183,927 (0.0016%) cgMLST allele calls were wrong. Sanger sequencing confirmed all 12 discrepancies of the ring trial results in comparison with the published sequence of ATCC 25923. In summary, this ring trial demonstrated the high reproducibility and accuracy of current next-generation sequencing-based bacterial typing for molecular surveillance when done with nearly completely locked-down methods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)908-913
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2017


  • whole-genome sequencing
  • ring trial
  • interlaboratory reproducibility
  • cgMLST
  • molecular subtyping
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