Identification of microorganisms by PCR amplification and sequencing of a universal amplified ribosomal region present in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes.
The small ribosomal subunit contains 16S rRNA in prokaryotes and 18S rRNA in eukaryotes. Even though it has been known that some small ribosomal sequences are conserved in 16S rRNA and 18S rRNA molecules, they have been used separately for taxonomic and phylogenetic studies. Here, we report the existence of two highly conserved ribosomal sequences in all organisms that allow the amplification of a zone containing approximately 495 bp in prokaryotes and 508 bp in eukaryotes which we have named the "Universal Amplified Ribosomal Region" (UARR). Amplification and sequencing of this zone is possible using the same two universal primers (U1F and U1R) designed on the basis of two highly conserved ribosomal sequences. The UARR encompasses the V6, V7 and V8 domains from SSU rRNA in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. The internal sequence of this zone in prokaryotes and eukaryotes is variable and the differences become less marked on descent from phyla to species. Nevertheless, UARR sequence allows species from the same genus to be differentiated. Thus, by UARR sequence analysis the construction of universal phylogenetic trees is possible, including species of prokaryotic and eukaryotic microorganisms together. Single isolates of prokaryotic and eukaryotic microorganisms from different sources can be identified by amplification and sequencing of UARR using the same pair of primers and the same PCR and sequencing conditions.