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Metagenomics — the genomic analysis of communities of organisms — is reshaping the landscape of microbiology. Transcending individual genes and genomes, metagenomics offers access to all of the genomes in a community to reveal the secrets of the "uncultured world" — the enormous number of microbial species that cannot currently be isolated into pure culture. Metagenomics will expand our ability to discover and benefit from microbial capabilities, improve our understanding of microbial communities and probably lead to major advances in medicine, agriculture, energy production and bioremediation.