The application of metagenomics, the culture-independent capture and subsequent analysis of genomic DNA from the environment, has greatly expanded our knowledge of the diversity of microbes and microbial protein families; however, the metabolic functions of many microorganisms remain largely unknown. DNA stable-isotope probing (DNA-SIP) is a recently developed method in which the incorporation of stable isotope from a labelled substrate is used to identify the function of microorganisms in the environment. The technique has now been used in conjunction with metagenomics to establish links between microbial identity and particular metabolic functions. The combination of DNA-SIP and metagenomics not only permits the detection of rare low-abundance species from metagenomic libraries but also facilitates the detection of novel enzymes and bioactive compounds.
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