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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2005 Dec;16(6):588-93. Epub 2005 Sep 19.

Mining genomes and 'metagenomes' for novel catalysts.

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Department of Biocatalysis, Institute of Catalysis, CSIC, Cantoblanco, Madrid, Spain.


Advances in the field of genomics and 'metagenomics' have dramatically revised our view of microbial biodiversity and its potential for biotechnological applications. Considering the estimation that >99% of microorganisms in most environments are not amenable to culturing, very little is known about their genomes, genes and encoded enzymatic activities. The isolation, archiving and analysis of environmental DNA (or so-called 'metagenomes') has enabled us to mine microbial diversity, allowing us to access their genomes, identify protein coding sequences and even to reconstruct biochemical pathways, providing insights into the properties and functions of these organisms. The generation and analysis of (meta)genomic libraries is thus a powerful approach to harvest and archive environmental genetic resources. It will enable us to identify which organisms are present, what they do, and how their genetic information can be beneficial to mankind.

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