The Current State of Metagenomic Analysis
Pieter De Maayer, Angel Valverde and Don A. Cowan
from: Genome Analysis: Current Procedures and Applications (Edited by: Maria S. Poptsova). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2014)
The Earth harbours an enormous diversity of organisms, small and large, which produce a wealth of proteins and enzymes that we can potentially utilize to address many of our current challenges, including food safety, sustainable energy sources and human health. However, the majority of these organisms have been of limited value because they cannot be grown in culture, which has long been a prerequisite in order to study or exploit them. A new field of research that can provide access to the "unculturable majority" has recently emerged. The field is termed 'metagenomics'. With the advent of genome sequencing and the development of next-generation sequencing technologies, metagenomics has provided access to the genomes of unculturable organisms, allowing us to study their diversity and to access the potential in these organisms and their cellular constituents. Other technologies, such as metatranscriptomics, metaproteomics and metabolomics, have been incorporated into the metagenomics toolkit, all enhancing the power of this field of research. Here, we address the state of metagenomics, its current methodologies and pitfalls, recent developments and future perspectives, and show how this technology is transforming modern biological science read more ...