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National Academies advisory: March 27 release of report on metagenomics

Microbes run the world. They convert the key elements of life into forms usable by plants and animals, provide nutrients essential to survival, and clean up pollution. But until recently, most of the microbial world remained invisible to scientists because the vast majority of microorganisms cannot be grown in laboratory culture to be viewed under a microscope. Now an emerging field of science known as metagenomics is allowing researchers to examine all of the genetic material of thousands of microorganisms -- most previously unknown -- in an environmental sample simultaneously. This includes the ability to screen genes for capabilities such as vitamin production and antibiotic resistance.

THE NEW SCIENCE OF METAGENOMICS: REVEALING THE SECRETS OF OUR MICROBIAL WORLD, a new report from the National Research Council, looks at how metagenomics is likely to revolutionize our understanding of the living world, and how a research initiative similar in scale to the Human Genome Project could facilitate advances in the field. The report will be released on March 27.


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Contact: Wlliam Kearney
news@nas.edu
202-334-2138
The National Academies
22-Mar-2007


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