Related Resource

Understanding Our Microbial Planet: The New Science of Metagenomics


Humankind has benefited enormously from the study of microbes since their discovery in the 17th century. However, such benefits have come from the study of just a miniscule fraction of the millions of species of microbes in the environment. In addition, scientists are realizing the importance of studying the collective properties of communities of microbes, which perform complex tasks essential to the health of human beings and our planet. The emerging field of metagenomics opens the door to exploring the vast array of microbes unstudied to date and to investigating entire microbial communities. Through a deeper understanding of the microbes that sustain life on Earth, the metagenomics approach offers the promise of an incredible array of new benefits.