Sample preservation and recovery of intact DNA from gut samples may affect the inferred gut microbiota composition in pigs. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of the freezing process and storage temperature prior to DNA extraction on DNA recovery and bacterial community composition in pig feces using quantitative PCR. Fresh fecal samples from six growing pigs were collected and five aliquots of each prepared: (1) total DNA extracted immediately; (2) stored at −20 °C; (3) snap frozen and stored at −20 °C; (4) stored at −80 °C; and (5) snap frozen and stored at −80 °C. Results showed that DNA yields from fresh fecal samples were, on average, 25 to 30 ng higher than those from the various stored samples. The DNA extracted from fresh samples had more gene copies of total bacteria and all targeted bacterial groups per gram feces compared to DNA extraction from frozen samples. Data presentation also modified the observed effect of freeze storage; as results for Lactobacillus
cluster IV, Bacteroides-Prevotella-Porphyromonas
and Enterobacteriaceae showed the opposite effect when expressed as relative abundance, by being greater in freeze stored feces than in fresh feces. Snap freezing increased the relative proportion of Clostridium
cluster IV by 24%. In conclusion, the freezing process affected DNA yield and bacterial abundances, whereas snap freezing and storage temperature had only little influence on abundances of bacterial populations in pig feces.
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