A Public Resource for Functional Analysis of Metagenomes
The advent of high capacity sequencing of microbial genomes creates new possibilities for the sequencing of whole microbial communities. This emerging field of metagenomics, the sequencing and analysis of environmental samples, provides new insights into, for example, the genomes of organisms involved in the fate and transport of containment materials, carbon sequestration, or biomass conversion. However metagenomics also creates new challenges in the analysis of massive datasets. Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory have responded to this challenge by developing a freely available, open-source analysis platform, MG-RAST which provides a new paradigm for the functional annotation of metagenomic data. By combining high performance computing with analysis software and new methods for the control of these datasets, researchers are able to break the analysis bottleneck and achieve high throughput annotation of metagenomic samples. This work is sponsored in part by DOE’s Office of Science. Details can be found in BMC Bioinformatics 2008, 9:386.