Uncultured microorganisms represent a significant part of the Earth’s biodiversity. Natural ecosystems contain less than 0.1–1% of the microorganisms that can be cultured by standard laboratory techniques. Therefore, new methodological approaches are required for the identification and description of uncultured microorganisms, for studies of their genetic diversity and the structure of microbial communities, and for an understanding of their ecological importance in the biosphere. Metagenomics, a method of analyzing the collective genome of a microbial community without cultivation, makes it possible to unravel fundamental matters of the microbiology and ecology of microorganisms. Another efficient method of analysis of uncultured forms of microorganisms is “single cell genomics,” which involves the isolation of single cells from microbial communities and the sequencing of their genomes. Developed in the last decade, the high throughput technologies of next-generation sequencing provide a decisive contribution to the goal of reconstruction of all genomes of the microorganisms residing and interacting within ecosystems. This review describes the major methodological approaches used in metagenomic analysis of microbial communities, as well as accomplishments in the search for new uncultured microorganism, the sequencing of their genomes, and an elucidation of their role in ecosystems.
Russian Journal of Genetics – Springer Journals
Published: May 26, 2015
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