Material studied: Microbial DNA
Methods used: Shotgun sequencing, high-throughput sequencing
Microbial communities are ubiquitous in both the environment and in the human body. Our guts harbor trillions of bacteria that are thought to have a profound impact on our health.
Metagenomics—the genomic analysis of microbial DNA extracted directly from environmental samples such as water, soil and human stool—is a powerful means of surveying entire communities of microorganisms, the vast majority of which cannot be cultured using conventional methods.
Their metagenomic profiles tell us not only what microbes are present, but also what biological functions these tiny bugs may be performing.