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Benefit Of Metagenomics Essay

2120 words - 9 pages

Microbiology is the study of microscopic organisms and has numerous applications in medicine, virulogy, immunology and more since the implementation of it in the lat 16th century. There are many microorganisms in the world habituating all kinds of conditions and locations, and the primary goal of microbiology to not only to identify but also characterize these populations. In the past this has been carried out by direct clonal culturing given the ease with which discoveries could be made about cultured organisms. This subsequently established a precedence for culture dependent isolations in the lab (1). However, as more evidence arose suggesting that this method only captures a small breadth of the microbial community, a new methodology has started to gain momentum. Instead of solely focusing on identifying lab-cultured microorganisms individually through phenotypic analysis of biochemical and physiological test results, samples from environments are being evaluated en masse and then identified successfully using 16S RNA sequence and phylogentic analysis (2). This new method of analysis presents to the world of microbiology not only vast room for expansion, but room for even greater medical and scientific advancements as well.
The need for new procedures was an evident one given the quick accumulation of evidence and the rising concern for the presence of what are being called unculturable microorganisms (any organisms that cannot be cultivated in a lab). Consider what has been dubbed 'the great plate anomaly,' in which when direct counts are used to quantify active cells, the viable plate counts tend to significantly differ from direct microscopic counts. This anomaly has been attributed to the fact that plates select for certain organisms and as such screen out the bacteria that do not form colonies on plates. This coupled with the fact that there is already a large list of established microorganisms that resist cultivation or for which cultivation methods have not been established or investigated, aid the theory that there are numerous other bacterial divisions left undiscovered by focusing solely on cultural organisms. Some estimates show that more than 99% of the microbial populations cannot be cultivated in a lab (3). Others suggest that cultivated organisms only account for 88% of the known microbial phyla, with the rest being made up of uncultivated organisms (4). This discrepancy is reason enough for concern especially given that microbes are essential sources for nutrients and the primary recyclers of organic material. Not only does it indicate that we do not in fact have a total grasp and understanding of the microbial world as many had begun to assert, but it also has implications in human health. It is common knowledge that bacteria are everywhere, but only recent evidence has begun to show us that some bacteria don’t grow in the lab and resist cultivation after undergoing extreme conditions (heat, pH, etc.). This raises significant...

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