New Metagenomic Research

Ernesto Hernandez and Robert Edyvean started metagenomic research at the Kroto Research Institute. Metagenomics is a new field studying simultaneously an entire community of microbes by sequencing their DNA. They discovered more than 15 wild extremophile bacteria degrading aromatic compounds anaerobically. These microbes are close relatives of bacteria recently found in extremely acid cave biofilm, volcanic deposits, limited thermodynamic conditions and cultures degrading phenol, MTBE, trichlorobenzene and terephtalate.

Their findings can answer why previous thermodynamically non favoured degradation experiments were positive without the presence of methanogens. Their research is valuable in all those areas where a community of unculturable microorganisms are involved, e.g. agriculture, human health, environment and bioenergy generation, etc.

This year, a new report of the USA National Research Council says that metagenomics could revolutionize the understanding of the microbial world. In this report a new Global Metagenomics Initiative is encouraged to generate advances similarly like the Human Genome Project.