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Curr Opin Microbiol. 2003 Jun;6(3):282-7.

New approaches to analyzing microbial biodiversity data.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-5020, USA.


Modern molecular techniques have revealed an extraordinary diversity of microorganisms, most of which are as yet uncharacterized. This poses a major challenge to microbial ecologists: how can one compare the microbial diversity of different environments when the vast majority of microbial taxa are usually unknown? Three statistical approaches developed by ecologists and evolutionary biologists--parametric estimation, nonparametric estimation and community phylogenetics--are proving to be promising tools to meet this challenge. The combination of these tools with molecular biology techniques allow the rigorous estimation and comparison of microbial diversity in different environments.

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