Caister Academic Press

Population Genetics in the Age of Metagenomics: Impact on Investigations of Viral, Bacterial, Archaeal and Eukaryotic Microbial Communities

Jianping Xu
from: Microbial Population Genetics (Edited by: Jianping Xu). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2010)

Abstract

Microbial population genetics examines the spatial and temporal patterns of genetic variation across diverse geographic scales and ecological niches. With the arrival of molecular biological techniques, the past 40 years have seen tremendous progresses in microbial population genetics. However, in recent years, the analyses of genetic materials directly from natural environments have revolutionized our approaches and understandings of the diversity, function, and inter-relationships among microorganisms in diverse natural ecological niches. The emergence and development of this expanding new field, that of metragenomics, has been primarily driven by technical and analytical methods developed from high throughput platforms for cloning, microfluidics, DNA sequencing, robotics, high-density microarrays, 2D-gel electrophoresis, and mass spectrometry as well as associated bioinformatics softwares. In this chapter, I present a general overview of this exciting development, including the general approaches and common tools used for identifying the diversity and function of microorganisms in natural biological communities. Of special notes are the potential impacts of recent developments in single cell isolation, whole-genome amplification, pyrosequencing, and database warehousing on our understanding of microbial population structures in nature. These exciting developments are bringing significant opportunities as well as new challenges to the field of microbial population genetics read more ...
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