What is it about?

A "metagenome" refers to a diverse collection of genes from microorganisms inhabiting various environments, such as soil, water, air, and the digestive tracts of animals and humans. This genomic information can be used to survey natural environments, assess human health, and identify novel microorganisms and genes with potential applications in various fields. Identifying differences in metagenomes among various natural environments is also an important clue to understanding how the natural environment affects the microorganisms that inhabit it. This study provides a method to represent metagenomic differences and relationships using molecular phylogenetic trees, a way to describe the evolutionary processes of organisms. This method allows us to show the relationships among microbial communities in various environments in a visually clear manner and to identify which microbes in which environments form similar community structures.

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Why is it important?

Comparing the genes across different metagenomes presents a significant challenge due to the variety of genes present in diverse microorganisms within metagenomic information. To address this issue, this study developed a method that reconstructs the sequences of multiple protein-coding genes from metagenomic sequence data, compares the resulting genes among metagenomes, and calculates the degree of similarity between them. In essence, the method compares the gene sets found in microbial communities across different environments.

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This page is a summary of: Phylogeny analysis of whole protein-coding genes in metagenomic data detected an environmental gradient for the microbiota, PLoS ONE, February 2023, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0281288.
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