Microb Ecol 53(3) , 507-11 (Apr 2007)
The exponential increase of genomic and metagenomic data, fueled in part by recent advancements in sequencing technology, are greatly expanding our understanding of the phylogenetic diversity and metabolic capacity present in the environment. Two of the central challenges that bioinformaticians and ecologists alike must face are the design of bioinformatic resources that facilitate the analysis of genomic and metagenomic data in a comparative context and the efficient capture and organization of the plethora of descriptive information required to usefully describe these data sets. In this commentary, we review three initiatives presented in the “new frontiers” session of the second SCOPE meeting on Microbial Environmental Genomics (MicroEnGen-II, Shanghai, June 12-15, 2006). These are (1) the Integrated Microbial Genomes Resources (IMG), (2) the Genomic Standards Consortium (GSC), and (3) the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Environmental Bioinformatics Centre (NEBC). These integrative bioinformatics and data management initiatives underscore the increasingly important role ecologists have to play in the genomic (metagenomic) revolution.