Comparative Metagenomics of Microbial Communities

Science  22 Apr 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5721, pp. 554-557
DOI: 10.1126/science.1107851

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The species complexity of microbial communities and challenges in culturing representative isolates make it difficult to obtain assembled genomes. Here we characterize and compare the metabolic capabilities of terrestrial and marine microbial communities using largely unassembled sequence data obtained by shotgun sequencing DNA isolated from the various environments. Quantitative gene content analysis reveals habitat-specific fingerprints that reflect known characteristics of the sampled environments. The identification of environment-specific genes through a gene-centric comparative analysis presents new opportunities for interpreting and diagnosing environments.

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