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updated: June 15, 2024


Metagenomics is the study of the structure and function of entire nucleotide sequences isolated and analyzed from all the organisms (typically microbes) in a bulk sample. Metagenomics is often used to study a specific community of microorganisms, such as those residing on human skin, in the soil or in a water sample.


Metagenomics. Metagenomics has been an area of very active interest in the last few decades as we learn more about all of the microorganisms that live in and on humans and in the environment. When I think about metagenome and I want to think about how you get the DNA from all of these organisms that are co-existing together in an environment, I think of it as if you had a box of puzzles. But it's not just one puzzle. You actually have all 10 smaller puzzles put together into one box. And when you want to think about metagenomics and the genomes of these 10 organisms, you're trying to solve 10 puzzles simultaneously to understand all the different pictures that are in this same box of genomes.

Julie Segre
Julie Segre, Ph.D.

Chief and NIH Distinguished Investigator

Translational and Functional Genomics Branch