Microbial Metagenomics: Beyond the Genome
Metagenomics literally means “beyond the genome.” Marine microbial metagenomic databases presently comprise ∼400 billion base pairs of DNA, only ∼3% of that found in 1 ml of seawater. Very soon a trillion-base-pair sequence run will be feasible, so it is time to reflect on what we have learned from metagenomics. We review the impact of metagenomics on our understanding of marine microbial communities. We consider the studies facilitated by data generated through the Global Ocean Sampling expedition, as well as the revolution wrought at the individual laboratory level through next generation sequencing technologies. We review recent studies and discoveries since 2008, provide a discussion of bioinformatic analyses, including conceptual pipelines and sequence annotation and predict the future of metagenomics, with suggestions of collaborative community studies tailored toward answering some of the fundamental questions in marine microbial ecology.