Metagenomics: DNA sequencing of environmental samples

Nat Rev Genet. 2005 Nov;6(11):805-14. doi: 10.1038/nrg1709.


Although genomics has classically focused on pure, easy-to-obtain samples, such as microbes that grow readily in culture or large animals and plants, these organisms represent only a fraction of the living or once-living organisms of interest. Many species are difficult to study in isolation because they fail to grow in laboratory culture, depend on other organisms for critical processes, or have become extinct. Methods that are based on DNA sequencing circumvent these obstacles, as DNA can be isolated directly from living or dead cells in various contexts. Such methods have led to the emergence of a new field, which is referred to as metagenomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence / genetics
  • Environmental Microbiology*
  • Genetics, Microbial* / methods
  • Genetics, Microbial* / trends
  • Genomics* / methods
  • Genomics* / trends
  • Humans
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA* / methods
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA* / trends