, Volume 85, Issue 2, pp 265-276,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 16 Sep 2009

Achievements and new knowledge unraveled by metagenomic approaches


Metagenomics has paved the way for cultivation-independent assessment and exploitation of microbial communities present in complex ecosystems. In recent years, significant progress has been made in this research area. A major breakthrough was the improvement and development of high-throughput next-generation sequencing technologies. The application of these technologies resulted in the generation of large datasets derived from various environments such as soil and ocean water. The analyses of these datasets opened a window into the enormous phylogenetic and metabolic diversity of microbial communities living in a variety of ecosystems. In this way, structure, functions, and interactions of microbial communities were elucidated. Metagenomics has proven to be a powerful tool for the recovery of novel biomolecules. In most cases, functional metagenomics comprising construction and screening of complex metagenomic DNA libraries has been applied to isolate new enzymes and drugs of industrial importance. For this purpose, several novel and improved screening strategies that allow efficient screening of large collections of clones harboring metagenomes have been introduced.