Metagenomics is the study of genomic content in a complex mixture of microorganisms. The two primary goals of this approach are to characterize the organisms present in a sample and identify what roles each organism has within a specific environment. Metagenomics samples are found nearly everywhere, including several microenvironments within the human body, soil samples, extreme environments such as deep mines, and the various layers within the ocean. Until recently, technical and economic constraints limited the depth of analysis necessary to obtain a representative picture of microbial and viral communities, their metabolic profiles, and their adaptation dynamics.
Advancements in sequencing technologies, including the introduction of massively parallel pyrosequencing with the Genome Sequencer FLX System, have enabled a tremendous groundswell of research in the field of metagenomics. Dramatic improvements in throughput and the elimination of biased cloning steps have extended the field far beyond tradition more