“[S]oon after the turn of the century, new high-octane DNA sequencing methods made it possible to sequence thousands or even millions of genes almost instantly. These new, speedier methods meant researchers could easily sequence the collective genomes of the sample, known as a metagenome, for the first time. Suddenly, it was possible to scan the overall composition of habitats as diverse as stagnant bogs and frozen tundra, producing a detailed portrait of the microbial life they held…. ‘You can just sequence everything,” Jansson said. “That’s where the metagenomic approach has really been an advantage.”
Quanta magazine profiled our collaborator Janet Jansson, a microbial ecologist and Division Director of Biological Sciences at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). She is part of the team studying the soil microbial communities in the Midwest Great Prairie Grand Challenge project, and she heads the team studying microbial communities in the Arctic permafrost. Watch her talk about the permafrost work in a 2011 Berkeley Lab “Science at the Theater” session.