F. Zhao, V.B. Bajic
& Bioinformatics Special Issue: Metagenomics of Marine Environments,
Microbes have played a fundamental role in the natural history of our planet, and have done so for billions of years. They have adapted to Earth’s many environments from the mild to the very extreme. Studying their diversity and their way of life is critical for understanding their full impact on the global ecology. Although the field of metagenomics is still young, it has unravelled a wider microbial diversity that had otherwise been completely overlooked by the traditional methods of microbiology. There are three major metagenomic themes: (a) marker metagenomics that surveys microbial community structure by targeting the highly-conserved 16S rRNA gene, (b) functional metagenomics that takes the total environmental DNA, from which it infers the metabolic potential of the microbial community, and (c) identification of novel enzymes.