Caister Academic Press

Understanding the Unseen Majority Around us: An Overview of Microbiological Technologies

Meesbah Jiwaji, Gwynneth F. Matcher and Rosemary A. Dorrington
from: Bioinformatics and Data Analysis in Microbiology (Edited by: Özlem Taştan Bishop). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2014)


Of all the living organisms on the planet, microorganisms are the most numerically abundant and diverse in nature. Despite their ubiquity, researchers have only begun to understand the diversity profiles, metabolic functioning and potential economic value of these organisms. Classical investigation of microorganisms involves the culture and study of selected microbes in the laboratory setting. While this approach has yielded much information, there are two major drawbacks. Firstly, most microbes present in the environment are unculturable using currently available media/methodologies and, secondly, they focus on one, often attenuated, isolate/species and/or a set of genes at a time. To overcome these problems, researchers have focussed on the development of new technologies that yield large, reliable and robust datasets in fields that include genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics. Importantly, the development of high-throughput sequencing technologies has dramatically advanced the analysis of microbial species diversity and their functioning within ecosystems. The large volumes of information-rich data require intelligent, and often repetitive, computational analysis, stressing the need for development of suitable bioinformatics analysis tools. This chapter provides an overview of microbes and the importance of why we need to understand them, as well as the methods applied to studying microbiota within ecosystems read more ...
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