Metagenomics and beyond: current approaches and integration with complementary technologies
Tracy L. Meiring, Rolene Bauer, Ilana Scheepers, Colin Ohlhoff, Marla I. Tuffin and Donald A. Cowan
from: Metagenomics: Current Innovations and Future Trends (Edited by: Diana Marco). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2011)
Metagenomics is the cultivation independent analysis of the collective genomes of microbes within a given environment, using sequence- and function-based approaches. Early metagenomic studies, aimed at cataloguing the phylogenetic diversity of different habitats, revealed the vast size and richness of the microbial and viral realms. Access to previously unexplored volumes of sequence space from uncultured organisms has since opened up many new avenues of research, with the number of projects and potential applications ever expanding. The rapid growth of the research area is furthermore a direct reflection of the advances in the throughput, as well as the reduction in cost, of sequencing and screening technologies. In this chapter we present a comprehensive introduction to the current methodologies, applications and challenges of metagenomics. We review the major improvements in the technologies that form the metagenomic toolkit, as well as the limitations they currently place on research. We assess the achievements made thus far in the exploration of novel sequence space. Finally, we consider future research trends in light of recent novel metagenomic approaches and the incorporation of complementary technologies read more ...