Microbiology (Reading, England)

Metabarcoding analysis of home composts reveals distinctive fungal communities with a high number of unassigned sequences.

PMID 26243286


Home composting has been strongly advocated in the UK, Europe and North America to divert organic waste away from conventional waste processing. Despite this, little attention has been given to microbial communities and their diversity in these systems. In this study, we examined the diversity of fungal species in 10 different domestic composts by 454 tag-encoded pyrosequencing. We report the recovery of 478 different molecular operational taxonomic units (MOTUs) from the 10 composts with a mean of 176.7 ± 19.6 MOTUs per compost and a mean of 12.9 ± 3.8 unique MOTUs per sample. Microascales (17.21 %), Hypocreales (16.76 %), Sordariales (14.89 %), Eurotiales (11.25 %) and Mortierellales (7.38 %) were the dominant orders in the community, with Pseudallescheria (9.52 %), Penicillium (8.43 %), Mortierella (3.60 %) and Fusarium (3.31 %) being the most abundant genera. Fungal communities in home composts were substantially different to large-scale commercial composts, with thermophilic and thermotolerant fungi present in much lower numbers. Significantly, 46.2 % of all sequences were identified as uncultured fungi or could not be assigned above the family level, suggesting there are a high number of new genera and species in these environments still to be described.