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CAMERA: A Community Resource for Metagenomics


Microbes are responsible for most of the chemical transformations that are crucial to sustaining life on Earth. Their ability to inhabit almost any environmental niche suggests that they possess an incredible diversity of physiological capabilities. However, we have little to no information on a majority of the millions of microbial species that are predicted to exist, mainly because of our inability to culture them in the laboratory.

A growing discipline called metagenomics allows us to study these uncultured organisms by deciphering their genetic information from DNA that is extracted directly from their environment, thus effectively bypassing the laboratory culture step. Metagenomics allows us to address the questions “who's there?”, “what are they doing?”, and “how are they doing it?”, offering insights into the evolutionary history as well as previously unrecognized physiological abilities of uncultured communities.

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