Molecular methods to study complex microbial communities

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  • José M Vieites
    CSIC, Institute of Catalysis, Madrid, Spain.
  • María-Eugenia Guazzaroni
  • Ana Beloqui
  • Peter N Golyshin
  • Manuel Ferrer

Microbes, which constitute a major fraction of the total biomass, are the main source of biodiversity on our Planet and play an essential role in maintaining global processes, which ultimately regulate the functioning of the Biosphere. Recent emergence of "metagenomics" allows for the analysis of microbial communities without tedious cultivation efforts. Metagenomics approach is analogous to the genomics with the difference that it does not deal with the single genome from a clone or microbe cultured or characterized in laboratory, but rather with that from the entire microbial community present in an environmental sample; it is the community genome. Global understanding by metagenomics depends essentially on the possibility of isolating the entire bulk DNA and identifying the genomes, genes, and proteins more relevant to each of the environmental sample under investigation. Following on this, in this chapter, we provide an analysis of methods available to isolate environmental DNA and to establish metagenomic libraries that can further be used for extensive activity screens.


  • Bacteria/genetics, Biodiversity, Cosmids/genetics, DNA/analysis, Environment, Environmental Microbiology, Gene Library, Metagenome/genetics, Metagenomics/methods, RNA, Ribosomal, 16S/analysis
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-37
Number of pages37
JournalMethods in Molecular Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2010
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