Metagenomics refers to the use of DNA sequencing to determine the phylogenetic and functional gene complement of a sample, such as microbial community DNA in soil. A shotgun metagenomics approach relies on sequencing of total DNA extracted from a given sample, without prior cloning into a vector.
Soil as a microbial habitat
Soil has several unique properties compared to other microbial habitats that are important to consider when discussing the topic of soil metagenomics. Currently there are few published soil metagenome studies, although there is a large interest in the scientific community on this topic based on attendance at workshops and conferences and funding of the TerraGenome NSF sponsored Research Coordination Network (www.terragenome.org). Although metagenomics is revealing new information about phylogenetic and functional genes in some soils, it is not possible to adopt the information available to date to all soils.
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