Image_1_Method for the Identification of Plant DNA in Food Using Alignment-Free Analysis of Sequencing Reads: A Case Study on Lupin.JPEG

Fast and reliable analytical methods for the identification of plants from metagenomic samples play an important role in identifying the components of complex mixtures of processed biological materials, including food, herbal products, gut contents or environmental samples. Different PCR-based methods that are commonly used for plant identification from metagenomic samples are often inapplicable due to DNA degradation, a low level of successful amplification or a lack of detection power. We introduce a method that combines metagenomic sequencing and an alignment-free k-mer based approach for the identification of plant DNA in processed metagenomic samples. Our method identifies plant DNA directly from metagenomic sequencing reads and does not require mapping or assembly of the reads. We identified more than 31,000 Lupinus-specific 32-mers from assembled chloroplast genome sequences. We demonstrate that lupin DNA can be detected from controlled mixtures of sequences from target species (different Lupinus species) and closely related non-target species (Arachis hypogaea, Glycine max, Pisum sativum, Vicia faba, Phaseolus vulgaris, Lens culinaris, and Cicer arietinum). Moreover, these 32-mers are detectable in the following processed samples: lupin flour, conserved seeds and baked cookies containing different amounts of lupin flour. Under controlled conditions, lupin-specific components are detectable in baked cookies containing a minimum of 0.05% of lupin flour in wheat flour.